By Dolores Smyth, Crosswalk.com
There are no two ways about it—the teenage years are rough.
Teenagers are beset with insecurities, peer pressure, and heartbreak over bad friendships and romantic relationships alike. With stress on the rise among young people, it’s more important than ever for parents to teach their teens how to manage nerve-wracking situations before those situations become overwhelming.
One way your child can find stable footing during the turbulent teen years is to point them to books of the Bible that can help them navigate their daily circumstances. While all of Scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching (2 Timothy 3:16), there are some books that may resonate with your teen more so than others.
Below are 4 such Biblical books that may speak volumes to your teen.
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1. The Gospel of Mark Inspires Your Teen to Persevere
Any of the four Gospels would be a worthy read for your teen. However, Mark stands out as “teen-friendly” because it’s the shortest Gospel and written for the broadest audience. To use terminology your teen would understand, Mark begins with Jesus’s ministry and then moves along at a fast clip so that Jesus’s story could be easily retold and, in a sense, “go viral.”
Mark’s prose is simple and straightforward, highlighting Jesus’s actions more than His teachings. Mark doesn’t begin with a tedious genealogy showing Jesus’s link to King David. Instead, Mark’s Gospel begins with the vivid scene of Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist. This “action-based” narrative makes the Gospel of Mark appealing to teens.
Scholars believe that Mark wrote for a Gentile audience because he explains Jewish customs to his readers. This explanation may prove useful to your teen if he or she is unfamiliar with Old Testament customs.
Further, Mark presents Jesus as a servant who suffers for the sake of many (Mark 10:45). The teenage years are rife with angst. The idea that our Lord and Savior suffered greatly in His life may inspire teens to keep the faith during their own time of tribulation. Also, the idea that Jesus served others may inspire teens to volunteer their time to serve others as well.
Last, the main point of Mark’s Gospel is to concisely reveal Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah and the Son of God. This is first revealed through the outspoken Apostle Peter, who declared to Jesus: “You are the Messiah” (Mark 8:29). This is also revealed immediately after Jesus’s death on the Cross when the centurion cried out, “Surely this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:37-39). Such blunt language may appeal to teenagers who are used to having the internet at their fingertips and, thus, the information is given to them as quickly as possible.
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2. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians Teaches Your Teen How to Wear the Armor of God
Paul wrote his letter to the Ephesians while he was in prison. In this letter, Paul urges believers to be faithful followers of Christ and to be united to one another even in the midst of persecution.
Ephesians confirms for your child that he or she was created on purpose and for a purpose. As Paul beautifully penned, we are all “God’s masterpiece…created anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10).
Despite our teens’ beginnings as God’s masterpiece, they’ll encounter peer pressure from supposed “friends” who’ll push them to stray from the straight and narrow. Social media also pushes our teens to have unrealistic (and sometimes harmful) standards of perfection.
Your child can “suit up” for spiritual battle with such things as the Belt of Truth that is God’s Word. Explain to your teen that today’s trends are fleeting, and the approval of man fickle, but God’s Word is unchangeable and eternal. A solid understanding of the Word will teach your child how to grapple with any argument that seeks to undermine his or her faith (Ephesians 6:14).
Another piece of God’s armor is the Breastplate of Righteousness (Ephesians 6:14). Righteousness refers to our good standing with God which became available to us through the blood of the Lamb. One of the best ways to ensure good standing with God is to encourage your teenager to follow the Golden Rule to “do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12).
Teenagers can also cover their feet with the Gospel of Peace (Ephesians 6:15). When we motivate our teens to cover their feet with the Gospel of Peace, we encourage them to let Scripture be a lamp for their steps and a light on their path so that they might walk in peace (Psalm 119:105).
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3. The Book of Psalms Builds Up Your Teen’s Confidence
In drafting these beautiful songs, the psalmist imparted practical knowledge to build up the reader’s confidence and keep straight his or her path. For example, to help your child choose the right company, the Psalms counsel your kid to avoid spending time with liars and hypocrites (Psalm 26:4).
Teens also endure heartbreak that can strike down their self-esteem and, potentially, their faith. Your teen may suffer the heartache of a friend’s betrayal, a romantic breakup, or the death of a loved one.
As a parent, you should console your heartbroken child and build up their confidence. You should also explain that disappointment is a part of life. Comfort your child with the knowledge that the Almighty Father ultimately “heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).
Tell your child that faith is tested most during the tough times. During those times, Scripture tells us to “sow with tears” so that we may “reap with joy” (Psalm 126:5). This means that if your child sows seeds of faith in times of sorrow then, at God’s appointed time, your child will reap a harvest for his or her steadfast faith (Galatians 6:9).
Last, your child may be troubled by the latest headlines or the state of our fallen world generally. In times of hopelessness, point your child to God’s promise that He will bring good out of every bad situation for those who love and trust Him (Romans 8:28). Even if your child can’t immediately see what good can come out of a bad event, remind your kid that God is faithful and always keeps His promises (Psalm 145:13).
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4. The Book of Proverbs Shows Your Teen How to Live Sensibly and Act Justly
The Book of Proverbs is one of the Bible’s most treasured books. Written by King Solomon—famous for his wisdom—the Proverbs pack a punch when it comes to offering compelling instructions on how to live sensibly and act justly.
For example, Proverbs tells your kid not to waste time arguing with a fool because truth is as useless to a fool as legs are to the lame (Proverbs 26:7). By the same token, Proverbs gives your child a heads-up as to when he or she is acting the fool by describing a fool as someone who shuns correction and refuses to learn from their mistakes (Proverbs 15:12).
The Book of Proverbs also encourages teenagers to count their blessings instead of focusing on what others have and they don’t. By stewing in resentment over someone else’s blessings, teens may be inadvertently shrugging off their own. Sagely, the Bible warns that when envy is allowed to grow, it “rots the bones” instead of giving life to the body (Proverbs 14:30).
The Proverbs also help to curb your teen’s temptation to gossip. Gossip ends friendships and provokes arguments. Proverbs teaches your teen not to feed the flames of gossip by instructing that “without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down” (Proverbs 26:20).
Proverbs nudges your kid to be honest by stating plainly that God hates a lying tongue (Proverbs 6:17). Your kid may also think twice about being a troublemaker upon learning that God hates people who stir up conflict among others (Proverbs 6:19).
Equally important is Proverbs’ constant reminder that teens watch over their emotional health in large part by being mindful about the company they keep. Proverbs 4:23 counsels: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
To keep your heart (i.e., your emotions) healthy, Proverbs advises your teen to accept correction from well-meaning friends (Proverbs 27:5-6). Also, your kid should walk with the wise to become wise rather than suffer harm in the company of fools (Proverbs 13:20). Finally, Proverbs insists that befriending angry people is a mistake because it will eventually ensnare your teenager in unnecessary quarrels (Proverbs 22:24-25).
God wants us to be happy and rejoice in Him each day (Psalm 118:24). Whether your teen dives into this list of Biblical books or chooses another section of Scripture, the key is to encourage your child to read the Word and to make a study Bible accessible at home. Cultivating Bible-based confidence gives your teens the tools to overcome insecurities and unburden their worries at the foot of the cross.
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