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“It’s not rocket science.” That’s a phrase we’re likely to interject when we’re addressing a situation that should be relatively simple but has become overly complicated or overthought. If you talk to a parent, guardian, or authority figure of adolescents, they might almost convince you that it certainly does feel like a “science” to appropriately and effectively raise these amazing, powerful humans. And wherever there’s “science”, there are theories being put to the test to be approved or disproved; there are variables identified as fact and as myth

Let’s explore some of these variables and how they relate to the ministry of spiritually, mentally, and emotionally leading young adults to the future God has created for them. 

  • Creating a competitive culture is very dangerous. 

While comparison can be extremely damaging for adolescents and young adults, a healthy amount of competition can be good for social and emotional development. The Bible says, in Proverbs 27:17 (NIV), that “as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” The essence, or elements, that a young person is made of can be shaped, sharpened, or enhanced by participating in activities that promote healthy levels of competition and contest. Encouraging adolescents to test their God-given abilities often results in a stronger resolve to seek the truth and follow things through to the end. 

  • Every adolescent requires the same type and level of interaction in order to thrive. 

It’s true that we all have the same basic physical needs in order to live and survive. It’s not always true or uniform, though, that we each need the same kind or amount of emotional investment in order to be all that we are meant to be. Ephesians 2:10 reminds us of this best when it says “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Christ doesn’t make design flaws, but we do have to ask His wisdom to understand the blueprints of His creation. If you’re in the thick of raising an adolescent and what has worked before isn’t working now, consider debunking the myth that something is “wrong”  with them or “wrong” with you. They were masterfully created and God chose you to help them unlock their potential. He does all things “right” and will help us when we ask. 

  • Adolescents and adults speak the same emotional language.

Biologically, young people are not finished developing until around the age of 25. When adults communicate with adolescents, there is often an automatic breakdown in understanding because of this. If you’ve found yourself frustrated when trying to convey important information with a reluctant young person, consider following the advice from Colossians 3:12 (NIV): “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” While a young person may initially reject sound advice, they will recognize a pattern of consistent compassionate, humble, and patient responses to their sincere concerns. 

  • Young people have something very valuable to add to the world around them. 

An adult working with adolescents has the distinct responsibility (and privilege) of keeping young people reminded of their worth and value. The truth is found in Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV). “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” It’s because an adolescent still has so much more to learn that they bring youthful wonder to the world around them. It’s because an adolescent rebels against the status quo that they bring creativity and ambition to the world around them. It’s because an adolescent is “stubborn” that they’re able to contribute bravery and courage to the world around them. 

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During this stage of raising adolescents, you might be called upon to become a “rocket scientist” in order to effectively instill the truths that God has spoken over their lives and futures. The good news is that you have a textbook, a manual, in the Word of God that will allow you to separate fact from myth and give your young person the best advantage of all; the knowledge that God is on their side through it all. 

Go raise a world changer!