Teens can be challenging. I enjoy this stage, don’t get me wrong. Not only am I in the midst of raising my own teens, but I spend my afternoons teaching other parents’ teens, and most days… I love it.
But anyone who has teenagers knows they can be trying because of their immaturity, stubbornness, and the roller coaster of emotions. I had these things in mind when a mom of a strong-willed toddler asked me if it gets easier when they get older.
Easier? No. More sanctifying? Yes.
I was talking with friends recently about these challenges in parenting teens and young adults. Considering her own trials, one friend made the comment that studying the book of Revelation has really helped to keep these challenges in perspective. All that thunder and lightning in Revelation 4; you can’t help but take a step back to gain perspective.
I read Revelation 4 the next morning, and I couldn’t help but smile. My friend was right. The next time you have a few quiet moments, read Revelation 4 about the throne in heaven, and then follow that with the verses from Revelation 21. Your heart will soar with these glimpses of what is to come.
So, why are these chapters in the Bible an encouragement when raising teenagers? Because dwelling on the reality of what is to come forces us to be heavenly-minded, and having an eternal perspective makes all the difference in our parenting.
Heavenly Minded for Earthly Good
I know some are resistant to the idea of being heavenly minded. In objection, many use the common mantra: “To be heavenly minded is to be of no earthly good.” This phrase, however, assumes that to be heavenly minded is to live only with our “head in the clouds.”
But living with an eternal perspective does not mean becoming blind to the realities of this life. Colossians 3:1-3 says, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”
These verses are not asking us to live ignorantly, nor are they urging us to see earthly things as evil. God created this world as a gift for us to enjoy (1 Tim. 6:17), so take pleasure in the many blessings of this life. Earthly possessions only become evil if they replace our affections with those in heaven.
The good news for us as parents is that we have a God who delights in giving us earthly blessings but who also reminds us through His Word to set our minds on the glory to come. This heavenly perspective provides the hope needed to endure through every hardship in life, including the ones we sometimes face in parenting.
Being Heavenly Minded Provides Perspective.
We’ve struggled through the mud and mire of teenage rebellion. Some days walking the journey looks more like trudging, weighed down by “what-ifs,” and distraught by my failings. On many occasions, I lose perspective and even despair.
But being mindful of our heavenly future provides a needed outlook. The Scriptures that point to our future hope paints a picture of God’s absolute power and majesty. The only appropriate response to this kind of supreme holiness is complete humility. To think that I alone have the power to either mess up my child’s life or to make it the best it can be is to give my humanness way too much credit. And to think that the way my child turns out is purely the result of my parenting unduly diminishes the power and might of our Sovereign Lord. It is Jesus alone who has complete control of my child’s life.
To be reminded that there will be a day when we will experience the fullness of Jesus’ might, and power and glory (Rev. 4:6-11) is to be reminded that He embodies all these things right now. Because this is true, He can do exceedingly great work in the life of our children in and through our faithfulness, our feebleness, and our frailty as parents.
Being Heavenly Minded Orders Our Priorities.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the idea that parenting is formulaic; that if we do some of “this” and sprinkle in a little of “that,” we will produce a great child. These formulas usually include pushing success in the various spheres of influence whether it be music, theatre, sports, or academia.
There are positive reasons to aspire to do our very best in any one of these areas. The outcome of working hard is part of the blessing that we experience in this life. But being heavenly minded reminds us as parents that none of these are ultimate.
When we have an eternal outlook, it keeps us from exasperating our children by pushing too hard toward earthly goals, and instead reminds us to balance our earthly counsel with spiritual guidance.
Pray fervently, talk about Jesus regularly, and take heart in knowing that the Creator of the world is also the author of your child’s story, and it is perfectly penned.
Jesus is coming back. Beyond the unknowns our children’s future is this sure and concrete reality. So, with eagerness, take every opportunity to first and foremost point your child to the King of Kings who reigns now and who will reign forever.
Being Heavenly Minded Provides Hope in Suffering.
Today, we walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7). But there will be a day, as the famous hymn “It is Well” affirms, when our faith will no longer be necessary because we will see Jesus face to face:
“And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight. The clouds be rolled back as a scroll. The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend. Even so, it is well with my soul.”
Being heavenly minded provides hope beyond understanding that it is well even in a world filled with unrest, war, confusion, and hatred. And it provides indescribable comfort in a parenting sphere that is often filled anxiety, frustration, and difficult decisions.
No matter how trying this calling to be a parent may be, God reigns, and He is coming back. You can trust that your labors are not in vain, but they are part of God’s redemptive story that will one day culminate in His return. And on that day, every eye of every person will be on Jesus, and “God himself will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore…” (Rev. 21:4)
Amen and amen.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus.