By Vivian Padilla-Chapman, Crosswalk.com
If someone had warned Samson during his teen years that a beautiful woman named Delilah would someday entice him, then betray him and finally derail God’s best plans for him, I wonder if he would have made the same choices that led to his tragic demise.
Did Samson’s parents make a habit of reminding him of God’s intended purpose for him and did they focus on training him to guard his heart from anything that might thwart him from that plan?
While we can’t do anything about Samson’s story, it’s exciting to know that as parents, we can play an important role in casting a vision of God’s purpose for our teens. It is also critical that we warn them of potential stumbling blocks and train them to guard their hearts from untimely romantic relationships.
A VISION OF PURPOSE
We must think differently from our culture during this season of our children’s lives and repeatedly remind them that God has a specific plan to use their gifts and talents. Teens need to be reminded often (as in daily) to spend their time developing and strengthening those abilities with which God has gifted them. Those teens who feel they have no abilities need even more encouragement, resources and focused time to discover their gifts.
In the film Chariots of Fire, Olympic gold medal winner Eric Liddell, says, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast, and when I run, I feel God’s pleasure.” Even as a young man Liddell realized that the simple ability to run was a gift from God that would help lead him to fulfill God’s destiny. That’s the kind of vision our teens can use.
We need to ask the Lord to show us how even the most seemingly insignificant abilities that our children have can be the talents he wants them to develop for His glory. Teens with this kind of goal-oriented mindset will be difficult targets for the enemy to distract.
Don’t feel like a failure if you have a teen who shows little interest in developing or even discovering his God-given gifts at the moment. Stay in prayer, watch for any hint of interest and walk in patience. Eventually, some kind of interest will surface. Be willing to help your child even if you are not familiar with a particular interest, or he develops a passion in a subject that is not as exciting to you. Our prayer must be that God’s will be done in their lives. God knows best.
WARNINGS FOR GUYS AND GALS
Before our son was even at the age of being interested in girls and even in his early teens, my husband and I used to read him the story of Samson and Delilah intending to make him aware of how the enemy could bring “Delilahs” to thwart God’s plans and purposes in men’s lives. Just as Delilah served as a trap for Samson, “The enemy may bring Delilahs your way too,” we’d say. We wanted him to be aware that one of the most common stumbling blocks he might face could be “falling in love” at the wrong time. We also told him that Delilahs were seldom ugly and they could even come in the form of “nice” girls who go to church. We counseled him that his teen years were a season for maturing spiritually and emotionally until he could handle a relationship later. Until then, he would need to be focused so as not to lose sight of God’s leading.
We let him know that Delilahs could show up at any season of his life, even when he was happily married. The enemy throws temptations at men regardless of age.
We’ve taken a similar approach with our daughter also warning her about even “good” Christian guys who might capture her heart before she’s fully grounded in the direction of God’s plan for her life. The enemy doesn’t discriminate between guys and girls. His plan is to steal away or distract as many hearts from the Lord as he can.
GUARDING THE HEART
In our “Samson and Delilah talks” we would often mention that despite the strong call of God on his life, Samson was pretty much led by his flesh and not his spirit. It was obvious that he did little to guard his heart. What I call guarding “the heart,” others may call guarding “the soul.” Either way, I’m talking about being careful of what we allow to influence our mind, will, and emotions.
Differences in personality, temperament and spiritual maturity will influence how successfully a teen will guard his heart. While there is no simple formula that will safeguard anyone’s heart, parents can definitely play a crucial role in encouraging their teens to be careful before they plunge into romance too soon and too fast.
There is a children’s song that says, “Be careful little eyes what you see, for the Father up above is looking down in love.” The following verses include what the “ears hear, where the feet go, and what the hands do.” This advice is not just good for children, but excellent for guarding anyone’s heart no matter the age.
Many parents ask how they can encourage their sons and daughters who want to guard their hearts, but struggle with controlling romantic feelings. Here are a few practical ways:
- Be aware of what might trigger romantic feelings. Is it certain kinds of music? For guys, it might be a visit to the internet. For girls, it may be a certain movie, or romance novel. Help guide their choices by listening to their music and watching movies together. Ask them questions about why they like a certain song or movie. Listen carefully to their responses and ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom to guide them.
If your teen’s desire is truly to focus on preparing for his future and seeking God’s plan, he probably won’t have that much time to spend “feeding” romantic feelings. Unless they have made a conscious effort to resist the cultural norm of early romance, most teens will need help keeping their feelings in check until a more appropriate time.
- Realize that your teens need encouragement about their thought life. Regardless of our culture, it is possible to pursue a thought life of purity. Offer to read the book of Proverbs with your son or daughter. Discuss the temptations they face and pray the Word of God over them. Consider the verses below:
• Be transformed by the renewing of your mind- Romans 12:2
• Those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires- Romans 8:5
• God will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear- I Corinthians 10:13
• God’s power is made perfect in weakness- II Corinthians 12:9
• Flee also youthful lusts- II Timothy 2:22
The Bible would not include these encouraging words if it were not possible to live them out. Have faith that the Bible truly means what it says and that it has the power to change us.
- Help your teens understand that God is the author of their sex-drive. Pray with your teens that the Lord will help them keep romantic feelings at bay until the right season. Let your teens know the more they save their feelings for marriage, the more intimacy they will enjoy with their spouse. Help them understand how important it is to practice controlling their thoughts and feelings, so that they may be better equipped for staying pure now and later on in marriage.
Our teens need vision, wisdom and self-control. The development of these characteristics is not a matter of reaching a certain age. It is part of the growth process of spiritual maturity for all of us. It comes at different ages and stages of life. Be encouraged that your leading will help your teens live purpose driven lives.
Published in The Mother’s Heart magazine, a premium online publication for mothers with hearts in their homes. Visit www.The-Mothers-Heart.com for more information. Along with her husband, Gary, Vivian Padilla-Chapman has been homeschooling her two children, Daniel and Sara since 1991. Daniel just entered Georgia Tech as a President’s Scholar this fall and Sara is a high school junior. Vivian holds a B.A. in Mass Communications and an M.A. in Applied Linguistics from the University of South Florida.
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