Open Letter to Teens

by Jeannette Haley and Rayola Kelley

DEAR YOUNG PERSON,Soon (if you have not already) you will enter that time of life known in our culture as “the teenage years”. We understand how you long to move on past being considered “a kid” to those somehow magical, if not somewhat mysterious years where you expect people to automatically see you in a whole new light. Sometimes there is this prevailing, unspoken idea that because a person is now a “teen”, they are excused from being accountable for their attitudes and actions.

The problem with this idea is it is simply unrealistic and untrue and can set you up for great delusion, despair and destruction. The important thing to know is what God and His Word say about this time period of being a teenager.

The answer is… absolutely nothing. The reason for this is because the emphasis on being a teenager is a rather recent invention by silly human beings that wanted to blame the breakdown of the family in each generation on factors beside a rebellious heart. In fact, they have even given it a name…generation gap. But in reality the rebellion that seems to grow with each succeeding generation in America goes back to the Garden of Eden. As Ecclesiastes states, “There is nothing new under the sun,” regardless of the repetitious echo claiming parents have lost touch and can’t understand what a teenager is going through. Such a claim not only shows that rebellion continues to be bound in the hearts of every new generation but often it is reinforced by the escalation of foolishness that grows as each generation becomes a greater embodiment of the arrogant, self-serving, gluttonous “me generation”.

God, in His infinite wisdom and understanding of fallen man, has no distinction between being twelve years old or fifteen years old or eighteen years old, and so forth. God looks at the heart…not at how many birthdays one has celebrated. And God’s definition of maturity is usually translated as “perfect” which means upright in heart. To be upright in heart one must sincerely love the Lord God above all else and gain God’s perspective of self, others, the world and life in general. (This is wisdom, which immature “kids” have not yet acquired, but young adults of sober mind may acquire through prayer and diligent study and application of the scriptures…Ps. 119:9 & 11) One can always distinguish between a child and young adult by the way they handle responsibility; respond to their parents (authority) and siblings; and by how they conduct themselves around others (selfish, self-centered, self-boasting and complaining or if they are polite, good listeners, respectful of others and their property.)

Dear young person, what is important for you to realize is this: You are only a little child ONCE, and those precious years as a child should be appreciated, embraced and enjoyed to the fullest for they are fleeting. Secondly, as you move out of childhood into the “teenage years” you are actually embarking on a journey from being a young lady or gentleman into full-grown adulthood with all of its responsibilities and challenges. What is important to God, and what should be of utmost importance to you, is that you understand, cherish and accept the challenge and lessons to become a young lady or gentleman. You must not fall into the trap or lie of the “me generation” by focusing on being in limbo as a “silly irresponsible “teenager” for six years who wants the benefits and recognition of being a young adult but not the responsibilities or the consequences of it.

Because of our culture’s ungodly emphasis on the “teenage years” young adults miss the challenge, joy and wonder of properly developing into young ladies and gentlemen who are able to face the real challenges of life. Real ladies and gentlemen are extremely rare these days. Please allow us to share with you the difference between the teenage stereotype and God’s design for a young lady or gentlemen.

  1. Unfortunately, teenagers are automatically expected to be sassy, disrespectful and rebellious. (Displaying ungodly attitudes and dispositions.) But a young adult, on the other hand, exhibits godly qualities that pursue after peace and righteousness such as submission, discipline, kindness and cheerfulness (Pr. 13:14).

  2. Teens are excused from their immaturity (selfishness) because they are just “teens”. This means a teen can be unclean and slothful which God hates. On the other hand, a young lady or gentleman has discipline (self-control) and incentive to do right without being prodded and constantly supervised. Discipline is a great mark of maturity and one that can cause parents to faint (Pr. 13:4; 17:28; 25:28).
  3. Teenagers have the reputation of being argumentative and lazy. The main reason is because they have bought the lie of the “me generation” where they believe they have rights to be foolish and live life for me, myself and I (no matter how immoral and foolish) until they hit a certain age. The problem is that such foolishness becomes worse and follows the young adult into their later years ruining their life and relationships. The reason is because what lies at the core of the lie of the “me generation” is that I’m God and the world is here to revolve around me. Godly young adults know this is a lie and that they are here for God and are part of an eternal plan.
  4. “Teenagers” are forever setting themselves up for destruction. They compromise because of slothfulness, sin because of rebellion and take the path of least resistance because they lack discipline. The result of such transgressions is a hard, bitter cup. Young godly adults know that in order to face God, they must not betray their heart, high calling, conscience and purity. They must flee all youthful lusts and stand on the Rock of Ages (Jesus), walk in sobriety and fear of God and chose to obey the Word of God. This is not only the secret to a life that will not be wasted but to an eternity of blessed happiness.

These are just four areas that distinguish immature, self-serving, idolatrous teenagers from mature, young adults.

Which are you?