Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Troubled teen needs help

Evangelical Outpost has posted 'This Weekend's Useless Post.' It is a fictional (I think) letter from a troubled teen asking for advice:

Dear Joe, My parents are driving me crazy. I’m fifteen but they treat me like I’m ten. They act like I am incapable of doing anything right. Everything I do is wrong. All I ever hear is how when I’m their age I’ll see things differently and that I’m too young to understand. They don’t realize that the world has changed since they were my age. Kids know more at fifteen nowadays than eighteen years olds used to know. Help me out, Joe. What can I do to get them to understand me? [signed] Frustrated Teen
Joe goes on to give pearls of wisdom to the young teen. I'm not a frequent reader of his; but, I think this question and his answer are meant to be comedy and nothing serious. But it sparks something within me.

The question alluded to is a good one. It is something I have been thinking on lately; so, let me put words to paper and see if I can articulate what's on my mind. What should a teen do when he thinks his parents aren't doing something the right way? How can a teen affect the situation in a godly way?

I think the key to this kind of situation is the authority of the parent. Children are to honor their parents and submit to them. This is true whether the parents are acting godly or not. They are to submit to the authority that God has placed within the parent. Their job is not to change the parent or chastise the parent for what they perceive to be wrong behaviour. The teen's job is to submit.

Authority comes from God. He vests authority in certain people in certain situations. The President has authority over the citizens. A husband has authority over his wife. And parents have authority over their children. The principle of Satan is rebellion against authority. The principle of God is submission to authority--humility is currency in the Kingdom of God, for God gives grace to the humble but resists the proud and rebellious.

In the parent-child relationship, a child's responsibility before God is to submit to the parent's authority. Only then can God work to 'fix' the relationship, for He resists rebellion and pride in all its forms . The proper alignment between the three parties is God first, then the parent, then the teen. In order to affect the situation for the Kingdom of God and for the betterment of the parent-child relationship, the teen must first align himself in God's proper order.

God removes authority and can change those in authority. Permanent change in an individual happens when the Creator changes you. Authority comes from God and is changed from the top down, not the bottom up. If a child counters a parent's ungodliness with reviling, talebearing, discord, and pointed correction, the child is following the principle of Satan and is in rebellion. No lasting change will happen in this dynamic. A teen may think he is speaking the truth in love, but he is acting out of self-will and under the principle of Satan, which is rebellion.

Obedience is better than sacrifice and it is the Father's desire to see His children submit to His authority. To submit to God Himself means to submit to His authority. We cannot submit to God's authority and rebel against the authority that He has vested in certain individuals who are above us in God's order.

So, when a teen submits to a parent, God sees humility and a heart devoted to following Him. He has found godliness and a teen walking in faith, not self-will; and God will move heaven and earth to bring godly harmony in that relationship, for He has found one who obeys.