“’Everything is meaningless,’ says the Teacher, ‘completely meaningless.’” (Ecclesiastes 1:2 NLT)
In a recent article by John Stonestreet of the Colson Center, he highlighted the teen mental health crisis. One New York Times journalist noted that “major depressive episodes” and teen suicides have increased by 60% since 2007.
Stonestreet wrote: “The factors behind this tsunami of depression, anxiety, and self-harm are many, one of which is the internet. In 2017, Dr. Jean Twenge of San Diego State University noted that the spike in adolescent mental health problems reached a crescendo in 2012. That year, the percentage of Americans who owned smartphones surpassed 50%. Exposing developing brains to an overwhelming amount of social information, she argued, was contributing to a massive, unprecedented uptick in mental health issues.”
We’ve all seen firsthand the aloofness, anger, lack of expression, and uncaring for parents and others in the lives of teens and young adults in our spheres of influence. It’s frightening and discouraging, yet we must not forget that God is still on His throne and still in control. Why is this so vital to remember?
Most of you who read these posts love Jesus. That, my friend, is 2/3rds of the battle! We are God’s “special agents” planted in the lives of teens and young adults to fight back for their hearts and lives. But how?
As with any Kingdom endeavor, it begins with prayer. I encourage you to make a list of the young people in your spheres of influence. My guess is, most of you already prayer regularly for your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, neighbors, and others, but let’s sharpen our focus. For example, a major part of their problems stem from the flooding of information into their minds and hearts. So, can we “distract” them from their “distractions?”
Let’s be more intentional in speaking into their lives. Focus on an area in which they have interest or take them to a sporting event or shopping or _________, and you can fill in the blank of what you believe would be most effective for the teens in your life. And I understand that some of them live far away.
So, we can use some of the same tools the devil is using so effectively. Let’s call, text, or email them. Think about it. Every second they spend talking to us or reading things we’ve sent them, is a second away from the barrage of meaninglessness they encounter on the internet or on their phone.
“But what would I say?” I suspect it will be tough at first but let them know how much they mean to you. Part of the problem is the things that demand their attention are impersonal. They invade their mind, but rarely touch their heart. Let them know how much you love them, then prove it by inviting them into your life.
Tell them stories of when you were growing up. Let them laugh at the clothes you wore and the songs you sang. Tell them about trips you’ve taken and what you’ve seen and experienced that has changed your life. Share your fears and your anxieties or take them someplace beautiful with a stipulation that phones are at least silenced.
And you may be thinking – “What about telling them about Jesus?” And, yes, of course, but balance that with all the other ways you’re investing in them. Teens typically love to eat. Take them for a meal on Saturday or invite them to church with you and take them to lunch at their favorite place afterwards. Be creative. The Lord is faithful to guide you. Remember how love is spelled: T I M E!
The whole point is to help them find meaning in their life as they experience your love and care as you invest your life in them. Love speaks so much louder than the internet. They desperately need Jesus, but they first need to see Him in you.
Food for thought.
Blessings, Ed 😊