The idea of fighting for your teen may scare off some parents. Hey—you’re just trying to pay the electric bill, pick up the kids from soccer practice on time, and serve something for dinner that doesn’t come from a drive-thru.
But I won’t sugarcoat what’s happening in your teen’s world. As a parent, you are immersed into one of the greatest fights of your life. It’s already on whether you want it or not. Every day the war is being waged for the soul of your teen. The question isn’t, “Are you at war?” It’s, “Are you equipped to do battle?”
Here’s how the Bible describes it:
“…pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith,” 1 Timothy 6:11-12 (NIV, italics added).
That’s the battle we are in. We’re called to faithfully fight for what’s right. Just as Satan is fighting to steal, kill, and destroy your teen, you too, must realize that you are a fighter, on the same side with your teen, fighting to help him or her win!
Recently, a mother talked to me about her teenage son. “Jeffrey,” she said, my son has never smoked pot, checked out porn, or been sexually active. His grades are good and his friends are nice. He loves going to youth group at church and believes God is calling him into pastoral ministry. I am so glad that God has given us our son.”
I congratulated her on the successes of her son and on her obvious strong parenting skills. Then I asked, “What are you doing each day to ensure that your son continues down this good road?”
“What do you mean?” she said, looking perplexed,
“What steps have you put into place to help safeguard your son from the enemy?”
“I don’t know,” she said, “Everything’s going so well—I haven’t thought about it much.”
Together we discussed a plan to continue praying daily for her son, to keep communicating truths into his life, to keep the lines of communication open with him about his personal life, including where he goes on-line. Most importantly, we talked about ways she could continue to help him grow in a daily and intimate walk with God.
That’s what the fight looks like in action.
It’s easy to believe that good parenting means checking off a list of positive accomplishments for our son or daughter. You know—things like:
√ My teen is a Christian.
√ My teen regularly attends youth group.
√ My teen dates a Christian (or doesn’t date at all).
√ My teen doesn’t watch MTV.
√ My teen ______________________.
You may be able to place a check beside any one of these statements. But guiding and guarding your teen through these intense years isn’t simply about completing a checklist. We must be on the offense everyday, not simply making sure that “our team” (your teen) has everything checked-off the blackboard. We need to be looking ahead, adapting and strategizing as the flow of the game changes, and working to both guide and guard our team towards success. It means approaching parenting on the offense as we work towards a goal, rather than sitting back and waiting for the other team to come to us.
Undoubtedly you’ve heard messages about how to deal with personal struggles, how to climb back up after failing, how to overcome addictions, and the like. But what if, rather than living life on cruise control, you lived life on enemy patrol: watching, being prepared, planning, developing a game plan for life, and daily putting into practice principles that help shape character and truth.
This is the principle behind the warning God gives in 1 Peter 5:8 (NIV):
“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
God has not created you to simply survive. He has created you to thrive, to experience the abundant life. When it comes to your teen, 1 Peter 5:8 indicates that all parents must be found wearing boxing gloves.
A mom recently said to me: “I realized years ago that I can’t sit around assuming that my kids are going to naturally come talk to me about all the stuff in their lives. I have to go to them. I have to initiate conversations. I have to look for moments of opportunity to get them talking. Because if I don’t, I’ll probably never know what their up against out there.”
That’s it! This mother is playing offence, not defense. She’s looking downfield to help guide and guard her teen toward a deeper and more intimate walk with God.
When God created you, He created you to be the exact parent your teen needs you to be. You can do this! God would have never given you the privilege of being a parent if He didn’t have an awesome plan for you in the process. God has called you to be a fighter—and He has given you everything you need to fight and to win for you teen.
So remember this! You are exactly where God knew you would be at this point in your life. He has a plan in every moment of the way. Trust Him, trust Him, trust Him!