Teens can certainly test our limits — not just of our patience but of our creativity and wisdom in responding to their queries. When we exercise patience and wisdom in addressing their concerns, we can enjoy the sweet fruits of digging in God’s Word for the answers to life’s questions.
Digging in the Right Direction
As we discussed in Part 2, it’s wise to promote study and careful consideration on the parts of teens, rather than spoon-feeding them pat answers. At the same time, young people need guidance in order to look in the right places for answers and to know how to interpret their findings. Directing them can mean many things, but here is a sampling:
- Providing them with scholarly but attainable study tools and teaching them how to use them
- Pointing them in the direction of resources detailing underlying principles or various positions
- Practicing the kinds of authentic, first-hand study skills you are trying to teach them.
Without being directed in their search for truth, teens can easily fall prey to the lies of Satan, which are certainly prevalent in our society and in our own deceptive hearts. We need to realize that the first position that gives a compelling argument will be more likely to take root in a person’s heart, so exposing teens to the tools for careful study with an underlying conviction of biblical truth is key.
Digging with an Open Mind
As you direct teens in their quest for discovering truth, modeling the kind of open-mindedness you want from them is extremely important. As you endeavor to look with fresh eyes at relevant Scripture, you need to model the kinds of study methods you wish to model for them, stopping short of relying on your favorite Bible teacher, what you’ve always heard at church, or even your own previous study. Certainly, such background can help you evaluate your findings, but if you rely simply on your own traditions or even on church tradition to back your beliefs, the thoughtful teen will shoot holes right through your arguments. The discussion will become a battle of Your Ideas vs. My Ideas instead of a common quest for truth.
Digging for a Cause
As you dig and hash it out, remember that your aim is not to validate your authority or chalk up points for your own pride. Your motivation should be God’s glory through convincing others of His truth. As such, in those areas where Scripture is silent, but you have distinct opinions, arguing is beyond the scope of edification. Even when you strongly disagree with a teen based on a carefully studied interpretation of Scripture, gracious interactions are in order. This is especially the case when it comes to differing applications of agreed-upon biblical principles (see Romans 14).
As you dig together and discover the riches of God’s truth, one of the many fringe benefits is the growth that your relationship will experience as a result of your common quest. That’s also a worthwhile goal.