Pastor Dean, Advice for a Teen?

Hey, Pastor Dean, um, I have an assignment from one of my teachers, and wonder if you could help me?

Sure, be glad to.  What’s up?

Well, we’re supposed to ask someone who is older, and maybe in a position of authority or something, some questions.  You’re pretty old, right? And you’re my pastor, so I thought I’d ask you.

(Laughs) Let’s do it.  Want to sit over here?  So, what are your questions?

The first one is, What do you think is the greatest challenge that kids face today?

Let me think a minute.  There are a lot.  But I would say, you are hearing so many voices, through friends, school, movies, music, celebrities, news, advertising, scientists, philosophers, pastors :), people trying to explain life, that it is hard to figure out who is right, who you should listen to, and what you should accept.

Ok, yeah, that’s true.  The next question is, What should people my age consider as dangerous?

Ooh, very good question.  A few things come to mind.  An obvious one would be addictive and destructive substances like drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.  It’s no myth that smoking pot and drinking beer leads to harder stuff.  Ever see pictures of someone addicted to meth?  You don’t want to end up there.  Another obvious one is porn.  Once you start, you’re pretty much hooked, and it makes it really tough to have a normal long-term relationship with a guy or girl.  I’ve seen a porn habit that started in the teen years destroy a marriage.  Of course, there are dangerous people who want to hurt you.  Here’s probably one that you might not think of – I think there’s a real danger in believing everything you hear or read.  It goes back to my first answer about all the messages and voices you’re hearing.  If you just accept what someone says because he or she is your friend, or has a lot of followers, or communicates well, or seems successful, you’re vulnerable.  You need to test what you hear and read.  You need a source of truth to test everything and everyone by.  Believing the wrong things can really get you into trouble.  I tell people, “Just because someone says it doesn’t mean it’s true.”  And be careful about the subtle messages presented in TV shows, movies, and music.  They do influence us.

Hmm, that’s a lot to think about.  Here’s another one:  What one personal quality is important to develop as I enter adulthood?

Ha, I have a long list!  Do I have to narrow it down to one?  Well, let me try.  I’m going to go with . . .  wow, this is tough . . . I’ll say, learn to have a realistic view of yourself.

Can you explain that a little bit?

Yes.  What I’m really talking about is humility.  Learn to see yourself as imperfect, but improving; as important, but not more important than anyone else; as dependent, yet confident.  Be who you are in personality, physical appearance, strengths and weaknesses, but grow in ways that you can and that reflect well on your Creator.  We’re all sinners, but God saves sinners and changes us over time.  So this doesn’t mean you never change or try to improve, but that you don’t think of yourself as too hopeless for change or too good to need it.  True humility produces concern for others, willingness to take advice, and dependence on God.  Ha, you can see I worked some other qualities in there!

Yeah, that’s ok.  Alright, there’s one more question.  Actually this one’s a little open-ended, so you can do what you want with it.  What advice would you give me as a teen?

I would say first, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”  That’s from the Bible.  Second, as I said earlier, you need to have a source of truth.  I’ll tell you, the Bible is it.  Regardless of what you might hear, it has never been proven untrue in anything it says.  It relates to every aspect of life.  Check it out for yourself. Then, wait for things.  Look, I know there are things you want to have now, or soon.  But it’s better to wait and get it right.  I’m talking about things like the man or lady you’ll marry, your career, certain big purchases (like a car or house).  I’ve seen young adults get into a big mess because they were impatient, rushed a relationship, got into major debt, made hasty decisions.  Take your time.  When it’s right, you’ll know.  Here’s one more:  Dedicate your life to living for God’s glory, not your own.  Take some time to figure out what that means, then spend your whole life doing it.  You won’t be sorry.

Thanks Pastor!  I enjoyed talking with you.  I think my teacher will like this. 

Well, thanks for asking me.  Glad to help.  Anytime.

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