I shared on Tuesday that my oldest son turned 13 years old. I am now the parent of a teenager. Just those words might bring some people to fear. I remember when I was a youth pastor that I would actually think, "I could parent a teenager. This is really not that difficult. I relate to them. They understand me. We get along and they respect me and want to have a relationship with me." What I didn't know then is what I am experiencing now. It is much more difficult than I expected. But it is also filled with much more opportunities than I expected.
One book that I have never fully read, but have referenced is Paul David Tripp's book, Age of Opportunity. It is a book that is very high on my "to do" list. As I have thumbed through it, I found this statement in chapter one to be very encouraging:
"The place to begin as we build a biblical understanding of parenting our teenagers is to reject the dark, foreboding cynicism of our culture. Yes, the teen years are years of change, insecurity, and tumult, yet these are the very things that God uses to bring truth to light in the eyes of our children. If we are to be his instruments, we must deal with our own idolatry and bring a robust biblical faith to each rocky moment, a faith that believes that God rules over all things for our sake, that he is an ever-present help in trouble, that he is at work in every situation accomplishing his redemptive purpose, and that his Word is powerful, active, and effective.
We do not want to be driven into bunkers of survival by teenage insecurity, rebellion, and widening world. Rather, we want to take Paul's call to Timothy as God's agenda for our work with our teens. 'Preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season; correct, rebuke, and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction' (2 Tim. 4:2). We want to approach these important years with hope; not hope in our teenagers or hope in ourselves, but hope in God who is able to do more than anything we could ever ask or imagine as we seize the opportunities he places in our path. We want to approach these years with a sense of purpose and a sense of calling.
When people ask you what you do, say, 'I am the parent of a teenager. It is the most important job I have ever had. Everything else I do for a living is secondary.' Then say, 'You know, I have never had a job that is so exciting! I have never had a job that is so full of opportunities. Every day I am needed. Every day I do things that are important, worthwhile, and lasting. I wouldn't give up this job for anything!'" (27-28)