Why do today’s teens answer the question, “What is character?” with good looking? Since when did physical appearance become a character trait?
Society and pop culture send unchristian messages like:
What’s at stake with this kind of thinking? Our culture’s moral compass — and our sons and daughters’ future.
Can we help our teens reclaim Christian values so their lives make an impact for Christ? Yes. Our influence still matters.
The cliché is true: Values are more often caught than taught. Jesus’ followers learned to be like him by modeling his behavior. “Follow me,” Christ told his disciples. They did, but not without questions, doubts and some resistance.
Actions speak louder than words. St. Francis of Assisi put it this way: “It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching” (emphasis mine). For years, your teens have followed you — sometimes resisting, sometimes not. They determine what is important based on observing you. If this thought makes you cringe, don’t let your past failures stop you from showing love and patience today. Continue to grow in your relationship with God, so that your teens will see your faith and want to know more.
Faith. Hope. Love. So many positive character traits are reflected in the meaning behind these three simple words. If we want our teens to emulate these character traits, we need to live them out at home. Here are just a few to start with:
As parents, let’s make our wrongs right by saying, “I’m sorry.” Our sons and daughters will more easily forgive others when they’ve experienced forgiveness at home.
Teens need to hear us say, “Thank you,” when they watch their younger brother or load the dishwasher. Especially thank them if they confide in you. Teens tend to share their secrets and struggles with their friends, so if they pick you to talk to — stop and listen. Let them vent and cry if they need to. Offer understanding and a prayer instead of a long lecture. Ask them if they want your advice.
When you do give advice, talk about how to handle temptation before your teen attends a party or a game. Encourage firm boundaries. Talk about the consequences of premarital sex. Share your testimony if it relates. To promote modesty, buy a fun and trendy — but modest — prom dress. When your teen is walking out the door, say, “I believe you’ll make wise choices tonight.”
Who’s following your teen? Chances are, someone or some group is observing your son or daughter, whether it’s a classmate, teammate or coworker. Teenagers already have the opportunity to spread the light of the gospel. Most of their opportunities for talking about their faith in Jesus will come from first living their faith. This is what St. Francis of Assisi meant when he exhorted, “Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” Encourage your teen to live a life that emulates the faith, hope and love of Christ so anyone who’s watching will be attracted to Jesus.
Are you showing your teen mercy when they need it?
I don’t always. For example, Justin got in trouble for laughing in class so I gave him the cold shoulder. My message? Shape up, buddy, if you want my love! A bad mom moment, I know. Whenever issues arise between me and my son, I try to remember that God’s unconditional love for us isn’t based on our behavior.
Next time your son or daughter disappoints you, shake things up a bit. Think of Jesus’ example with the woman caught in adultery. Offer a hug and forgiveness instead of a hard word and see what happens. There are times when that treatment isn’t the best option. But there are also times our kids desperately need grace. The Bible says mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13).
By offering mercy, my friend Beth saw results in how her teens responded to one another. Once when Beth disciplined her daughter, her oldest son interrupted and asked, “Mom, can you show mercy to her this time”
If we show our teens compassion, they learn to be compassionate, which carries into their jobs, college campuses, relationships, and into their marriages. When people are hurting, they need a safe place and understanding — not judgment. Inspire your teens to be that place for someone in need.
In a me-focused world, we need to challenge our youth to see beyond themselves. We start by serving our teen and others in need. Simple gestures go a long way.
Beth served her two teen girls by making their beds for them after they left for school. She helped them when they were drowning in classes and activities.
After driving past a homeless man, Scoti turned around and bought the best meal at McDonalds. Her teenage sons handed the meal to this man and said, “Take this in the name of Jesus.”
Our Christ-like examples are the most powerful influence to persuade our teens to be Christ’s disciples. We can equip our teens to offer the world something better — something of eternal value. “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13, NIV).
by Tiffany Stuart
Many people have different perceptions about the meaning of sense of community. A widely held academic definition of this term is ” the sense of community is a feeling members have of belonging, a feeling that members matter to one another and the group, and a shared faith that member’s needs will be met through their commitment to be together” (McMillan and Chavis, 1986). No matter how serious people’s level of involvement in the community, there are four main elements that compose a person’s sense of community.
The first aspect of Sense of Community is membership in that community. People become members of a community when they feel emotionally secure, personally invested and a sense of belonging or identification in the community. These features of membership “fit together in a circular, self reinforcing way, with all conditions having both causes and effects” (McMillan, 1996).
Secondly, people that have a sense of community must feel that their opinion can have influence over what the group does. The most influential people within a group are those who acknowledge the importance of other people’s needs, values and opinions. In close knit groups of friends this element may be increasingly more important.
Another element that is fundamental to people experiencing a sense of community is that people are rewarded for their participation in the community. This attribute is fundamental for people maintaining their sense of community. Ahlbrandt’s research clarifies the importance of this attribute by asserting a community “must attract individuals by positive rewards and satisfying experiences. When this attraction is not present, people withdraw their commitment, participation and rewards” (1984).
The final element that creates people’s sense of community is that the members have a shared emotional connection. This element seems to be the defining feature for people to experience a true sense of community. There are many features that facilitate people having shared emotional connections. One feature that connects to the physical features of a community is that people have an emotional connection with each other when they have a shared history (Mcmillan, 1996). Shared emotional connections are often experienced in public spaces. Public spaces can generate or restore a deep sense of community through providing people places to socialize and interact with each other (Hayden, 2000). People need places where they can socially interact with each other on a non-commercial level.
As you continue to grow, we want to develop, nurture, and challenge your sense of community. (Ephesians 2:21) Feel free to share your thoughts and join in the discussion on Facebook.
In God, whose word I praise, in the LORD, whose word I praise– in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? (Psalm 56:10-11)
On September 11, a man named Todd Beamer boarded flight 93. The majority of people in America had never heard this name before, but after that day his notoriety has grown considerably. Did he write a hit pop single? Did he produce a groundbreaking video? Did he write an amazing best seller? Actually, Todd Beamer did none of these things, but his actions far surpassed all musician, producer, and author’s works combined.
Flight 93 was supposed to be the fourth plane used as a devastating weapon against our nation. The smallest flight to be hijacked with only 45 people aboard out of a possible 289 had 84% of its capacity unused. Yet these people stood up to the attackers and thwarted a fourth attempted destruction of a national landmark, saving untold numbers of lives in the process. One of those people was Todd Beamer- a dedicated follower of Jesus Christ. Moments before he and the other passengers rallied against the hijackers, he prayed Psalm 23 with a phone operator, and his last words were: “are you ready? Let’s roll!”
Todd Beamer gave his life so that other lives could be saved. His faith in Christ and his assurance that he would be in heaven gave him the tremendous courage it took to accomplish his heroic acts.
In Acts 6 and 7, we read about a man of God named Stephen. He was full of faith, power, and conviction. He was brought before the Jewish ruling council on trumped-up charges and allowed to make a statement. Stephen, however, decided to play a different role. Rather than allowing it to be a setup for him, he turned into a powerful condemnation of the religious leaders. They despised him and his message, so they dragged him out of Jerusalem and stoned him. Stephen fell to his knees and prayed for his killers. The way he died spoke as eloquently as his sermon.
These men should serve as an amazing example to us. We are called to be people of conviction, standing tall for Christ and serving Him fearlessly. Be prepared believer- you never know what day you may be called on to offer yourself for His glory.
In John 13:34-35, Jesus gives a commandment for us to love others as He has loved us.
I conclude that I am / am not a caring person because: _______________________.
Now that you have some idea about whether or not you are a caring person, let’s go a little further. What are your thoughts to 5 questions below? Feel free to post your responses here or on our Facebook page.
The Christmas season is here — with sparkling lights, glittering trees, and magical store displays. But as we look beyond the external, the research on adolescent development tells us something very important about what happens in teen’s internal worlds. It’s a season that shapes their lifelong identities about giving. What are you doing this year to help children and teens internalize the gift of giving?
Of course, many teens associate Christmas with being receivers of gifts. But according to studies in human development, it is the giving of gifts that reaps the biggest psychological rewards. Parents can help teens realize these rewards by teaching them how to give back during the Christmas season and throughout the year. There are many ways to give back, including through the excellent projects listed below.
To mark the season of giving, from November 29 through December 13, each time a teen makes a pledge to volunteer through GenerationOn, its partners at Hasbro will donate a toy to a child in need. As part of their Holiday Gift Campaign, GenerationOn encourages youths, parents, teachers and nonprofit organizations to explore its many online resources, including holiday service projects that help teens turn pledges into projects. Also through pledging, children become engaged in a youth community that brings the gift of giving into young people’s lives throughout the year. What better time than Christmas to get your teens to take a volunteer pledge!
The Family-to-Family project helps American families “share their bounty” with others who are impoverished. They will link your family with a family struggling to put food on the table. Once a month, they will ask you to either shop, pack and send a box of groceries to them, or make a donation that allows them to do it for you. The best way is to get teens involved in the shopping, in the process of giving! Encourage your child to reflect on what others would want and how he or she can empathize with families different from their own.
The nonprofit organization AnySoldier.com invites you and your teen to help make Christmas special for American soldiers stationed in harm’s way. You can choose to support any of the Armed Services, decide what you want to send, and get your teens involved in making cards and selecting gifts. Plan ahead so a soldier in Iraq, Afghanistan, or another place of global conflict can receive your family’s heartfelt gratitude for the job they do.
The National Coalition for the Homeless is a national network of people committed to ending homelessness. They work to meet the immediate needs of people who are homeless by providing education, advocacy, and grassroots organizing. Check their directories of national and local organizations where your family can help this Christmas or throughout the year.
Right now, the programs that put food on the table for America’s vulnerable children, seniors, and working families are in jeopardy. Your help is desperately needed to fill food banks and pantries throughout the country. Feeding America, a nonprofit network of member food banks, can help your family find convenient ways to give.
What values does your family hold about giving? Christmas is a perfect time to talk about your values and make a plan to put them into action now and in the coming year. We are often so busy during Christmas that it is easy to go through the motions of gift-gifting without connecting to the deeper meaning of giving. Yet it is these deep connections that shapes teen’s identities and teach them the gift of giving.
John 3:16 is a power lesson on giving. It teaches compassion and empathy. It is a great lesson to incorporate in your family tradition and as your teen begins to act independently will help him or her become passionate about giving. Studies show that what youth learn about giving during childhood and adolescence lasts a lifetime. Your giving will impact future generations. Merry Christmas! Joyful Giving!