Learning from a Teenager
They say the person who is blessed the most in serving or ministering to others is the giver, not the recipient. How often I’ve seen and experienced that; yet how often do I lazily want to be the receiver! But sometimes God turns the tables: when you try to lead others toward Christ, they may unwittingly steal the reins right out of your hand and start leading you toward Him.
A month or so ago I gave a teenager a ride home. I just had read something meaningful earlier that day, and thought I had a 10-minute window to offer a ray of light to this person half my age. “Have you heard of…?” I began. “Oh yes!” came the reply. “I went there for a week and served these people and learned about their needs and had opportunities to pray with them…” And so on for about three minutes straight. Suddenly, my third-person information (full of temptations to devolve into a condescending sermon to a youth who “clearly” needed my guidance) jumped to the back burner as I listened to this first-person account. My audience was the preacher and I the learner. My audience the motivator, and I the encouraged.
My ideas and thoughts had not been devalued. My motivation had not been wrong. I had not been insulted. God might see fit to use me in this or another teen’s life at any moment. What was key was that I had made an effort, and God saw to the fruit. Little did I know that I was on the agenda that day, not my protege.
Learning from My Son
I wrote last month about fathering. But I haven’t said as much about my son himself. He smiles, laughs, says hi and waves bye to most people he meets, sees, and hears. He enjoys life in such an innocent, yet complete way. People tell us “he’s the happiest kid” they’ve ever seen. True or not, I don’t mind bragging! He doesn’t prejudge people. He doesn’t hold a grudge. He doesn’t resent or despise. I’ve never seen him unhappy for more than an hour at a time except for on a few very sick days. I can be unhappy all day for lots of reasons!
Now, he is less than two years old. And he is quite healthy and safe overall. But I’ve had much longer to get to know God, and to learn about deeper meanings of love and faith and hope. Sure, I’ve seen a lot more sin than he has. I’ve committed a lot more sin than he has. (He’s not perfect. He’s selfish and throws tantrums, for example.) And supposedly ignorance is bliss. But if that’s a truism, must it be true?
Anyway, I am trying to learn joy from my precious, wonderful little boy. When he’s with me in traffic, I may be irritated, but he’s not. When there’s an idiot driver on the road, I might be upset, but he’s not. When I’ve got lots to do, I might be flustered, but he’s not. When I’m tired of people, he’s not. When I’m embarrassed, he’s not. When I’m bored, he’s not. And even when things go wrong for him — when his toys stop working, when his favorite people say good-bye, when he’s sick of potty-training, when he gets disciplined — his cries may be more obvious than mine, but mine last a lot longer.
And here’s the kicker: God loves us both so much that He sent His own Son to die for us, even though we’ve both messed up a lot already, and will mess up a lot more in the future, too! (I should write about how tough it would be to do what God did, which only accentuates how great He is!) I must remember that my attitude in life — good and bad — will rub off on my son. I don’t need to copy him, or him me. We both must imitate Jesus, and thus bless and guide each other, and other people, toward Him as well.
Learning from the Bible
Philippians 4:9 says: “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.”
1 Timothy 4:12 says: “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”
Mark 10:14 says: “Let the little children come to Me…for of such is the kingdom of God.”