For teens with tender hearts toward the Lord, sometimes going to a camp, conference, or youth rally can be an exciting experience. Often, they hear well-spoken, energetic speakers that are passionate about serving the Lord, in an atmosphere conducive to making commitments for Christ. Especially if some friends are making changes and promises to God, the whole scenario can be something God uses as a catalyst for change. At the same time, there are some potential pitfalls we want to let teens know about and help them to avoid.
Back to Real Life
Once they’re back in their regular setting, teens can grow frustrated with the mundane, everydayness of it all. What happened to the thrill of committing their life to Christ, willing to trudge through the jungles of Africa, to take the gospel to those who have never heard? Worse, returning to their normal life might mean far greater temptations than they faced while away at a retreat or camp. We may not have the same magnetic personality as that dynamic speaker they heard, but we need to be there to coach them through understanding what following Christ means in their day-to-day lives.
Understanding True Commitment
Real-life Christ followers don’t always get to be the ones out front who receive the praise of man. Instead, many are nameless (see Hebrews 11:32ff). In fact, according to 2 Timothy 3:12, the life of a Christ-follower will include persecution. It is not a glamorous or an easy road. While we will all fail to live up to our high calling at times, discipleship is about surrender and sacrifice, and those are not one-time gifts we offer during an emotional event, but a daily, minute-by-minute lifestyle of submitting to Christ (Luke 9:23).
What Really Matters
While some youth speakers push for commitments to particular applications, such as lifestyle or career choices, the extraneous details aren’t really what God cares about. In fact, I’m pretty sure He’s much less concerned about where a person receives his or her paycheck than about what takes priority in his heart and life. External choices such as waiting for sex until marriage can be accomplished by those with hearts far from pure or devoted to Christ. The constant lifestyle of confession, repentance, and brokenness are more clearly marks of true disciples than even upstanding morals (Psalm 51:17; Matthew 23:27). We need to remember that the obedience that earns our salvation is not ours, but Christ’s. Not only did we need His forgiveness when we first accepted His claim of deity and ability to save us from our sin, but we need it today.
As we support the teens in our lives as they make pivotal decisions for Christ, we can help them maximize the effectiveness of such experiences by making sure they understand the biblical truths about commitment to Christ. Of course, modeling the kind of faithful, daily cross-bearing we encourage in them is worth far more than any words we speak.