A friend of mine is worried about her teenage son. As a child he attended lessons at Sunday School and children's camps organized by our church during vacation, but now he does not want to listen about Jesus, the Bible or church. What can she do?
Proverbs 22:6 lays the foundation for answering this question. Christian parents desire that their children will want to listen to what they have to say about Jesus, the Bible, or church. When a child is born into this world, he or she has a personality bent. Part of that bent inherently wants to sin. It is amazing how children even at an early age lie and say, “Mine.” No one needs to tell them to sin. It comes with them at birth. it is part of the package.
Part of that bent is their own unique attitudes, preferences, and desires. If we do not attempt to change them, they will turn into unpleasant individuals. There is a previous question and answer that explains the meaning of Prov. 22:6. It is titled, “Is everything mapped out for your life?” The meaning of the passage is that a child’s character or bent needs to be changed when they are young or their basic character as an adult will be unchanged. We are sinners from birth, and each of us needs to be changed.
One of the great tragedies in our times is that parents are being told to allow children to do what they desire. But God does not agree with that. We can already see the result in our culture. As adults their basic bents are just like they were when they were babies. I would encourage your friend to insist that the teenager go to church. That is the best way for the Holy Spirit to speak to him/her. There was a period in my life when I did not want to go to church, but my mother insisted that I go. I went, and eventually I asked Jesus to forgive my sins and take control of my life. God worked through my parents.
The Other Key
The other key is to pray for that teenager. We cannot force a change of attitude on anyone. When our children are young, they are more willing to bend; but the older they become, the more rigid they become. The mother’s kind words, threats, tears, and heart-felt expressions do not have the same effect in the teenage years. Sometimes it is easy to think that our real power is words of persuasion. But that was never true. The real power is and has always been prayer.
. . . You do not have because you do not ask. (NASB) James 4:2
Teenagers need to know that Jesus’ loves them. Encourage your friend to do what is right. Encourage your friend not to attempt to be the teenager’s friend. This is a battle for the teenager’s eternity. May the Lord bless you.