Towards the end of my sermon, I addressed the parents of teenagers specifically. I asked them if their teenager knew that they (the parents) needed Jesus. I don’t mean cognitively know…I mean really know. John Newton said, “We can’t be told we are sinners, we have to be shown.” I think the same is true when we are telling others about our sin and our need for Jesus as Savior. We can’t just tell them we are sinners. We have to show them.
After years of youth ministry, I’m convinced this is especially true for communicating with teenagers.
I thought my point was rather brilliant…
Maybe it was…
I thought the Holy Spirit was convicting all those who had ears to hear…
Maybe He was…
But a week later a parent approached me… “Zach, my husband and I loved your sermon, but we have no idea how to show our teenagers our need for Jesus. How do we do it?”
Wasn’t my brilliant point and the Holy Spirit enough?! Ugh! I’m not a good “how to” guy, which probably means I will be a very frustrating preacher to most…sorry…it’s frustrating to me too…and I’m working on it…although I doubt I will get much better.
But because I love this parent, and because I think it is so important for our teenagers, I am going to attempt to show you “How to Show Your Teenager You Need Jesus” in three (I wish they were easier) steps.
1. Tell your teenager the truth about his/her sin and YOUR SIN.
Your teenager wants to know the truth. An attempt to avoid consequences is inevitable, but the guilt if unaddressed is far more excruciating…and your teenager knows that. And when you address your teenager’s sin, know your teenager’s heart so well, that even if you never did the same exact thing, you can share a time where your heart motive was the same. This will take some work. Not only do you need to know your teenager’s heart well, you will need to know your own heart well.
2. Invite your teenager into YOUR REPENTANCE.
This could be done a number of different ways. Confess a besetting sin to your teenager and ask him/her to intercede for you in prayer also giving them permission to ask how you are doing in that area from time to time. Allow your teenager to hold you accountable for steps you need to take in reconciliation for a past sin. Or simply set a time to pray with your teenager once a week for the purpose of you confessing your sin before your loving Father. In my job as a youth pastor, I get the unique privilege of being present at times when others confess sin to God in prayer. The experience always affects me. How profound this experience would be if the one confessing were my parents.
3. Talk about YOUR RELATIONSHIP with Jesus often.
Mention Him a lot. Talk about Him like He is a person, not an idea. Love Him and more importantly like Him. Your teenager needs to know that Jesus is not only knowable, but loveable and even likeable.
You need Jesus. You know you do. Now go and show your teenager. And if you mess it up, your teenager will see that you need Jesus!