June 29, 2004
Encouragement for Today
Choosing Your Friends
Micca Campbell, Assistant Director of Proverbs 31 Ministries, Certified Speaker, Freelance Writer
"But if we are living in the light of God's presence, just as Christ is, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from every sin." (1 John 1:7)
It was only few years ago that I sat in orientation with my son as the principal prepared us both for Junior High school. Now, I was sitting there with my daughter.
Junior High school is often the time when many teens began to pull away from family and move towards friends. Most teens begin to identify themselves by what their peers think of them. What they wear, what they do, and which music they listen to is all based on the opinion of their friends. These friendships can be so important to our teens that some would rather die than not fit in. As parents, it's our job to guide our children into godly friendships that will keep them from sinning. We need to encourage our teens to choose friends who bring joy into their lives and strive to develop Christian morals and beliefs.
Before my son entered Junior High, I began seeking God for practical ways to keep him committed and pure while developing lifelong friendships that brought him happiness and honored God. Take time this summer to incorporate these principles below into the life of your teen and they will be better equipped for the school years ahead.
1. Introduce your teen to Jesus Christ and help them stay committed to obeying God through church, bible study and prayer. You teen is growing up and needs to develop his or her own relationship with God. When my son entered junior high, I purchased him his own devotional book. Often I would use travel time in the car to share about what God was teaching me during my quiet time and then inquire about his. There were times when he confessed to missing a few days. I would simply remind him the importance of staying committed.
2. Keep the communication lines open. Have a special date with your teen regularly. No matter how grown up your child becomes, they still like to spend time with you, preferably when no one else is looking! Go to the movies, shopping or dinner. You will be surprised at what your teen shares and how your relationship grows.
3. Know your teen's friends and invite them to your home often. Allowing your home to be the "hang out" for teens is the best way to get to know your child's friends. Guide your teen toward those whose values are the same and who are committed to Christ. If your child chooses friends who are not committed to God, then it is likely they will end up in a place they never intended to be. Any relationship that entices your child to sin dishonors God and leads them astray. One the other hand, a friend who walks in obedience to God's standard and shares the same love for the Lord as your child will become a lasting friendship that honors God. It will also provide a safe, fun filled year free from the wrong influences.
4. Support your teen. Be involved and interested in whatever she's involved with, even if it's not your cup of tea. Take time to learn about the things your teen loves. It will communicate to your child, I love you, you're important and I support you.
5. Help your teen develop or become part of an accountability group. These groups can be formed at church or school. The purpose of an accountability group is to hold one another to the moral standards of God. Each person is committed to staying pure sexually and emotionally, not using drugs or alcohol, and walking in obedience to God by living daily in His presence. When one member stumbles, the group is there to keep him steady. My son's group meets once a week, has a short devotion, discusses struggles, and prays for one another. Many God-honoring friendships have been developed through this group.
As I have practiced these values with my son, God has been faithful to keep him close, provide godly friendships, and be his strength when faced with temptations. Because God is able to keep that which is committed unto Him until that day, I can be confident about my daughter's future as well. You can help your child face his or her school days with success, too, if they are committed first to Christ and second to choosing godly friendships.
My Prayer for Today:
Lord, give me the wisdom I need to guide my child during his/her teen years. I ask that you protect my child from the wrong relationships and provide godly ones that will honor you. Help my child to clearly see the difference and the courage to make the right choice in friends.
Begin this summer discussing what a godly friendship is with your teen. Then, use those guidelines when your teen is making new friends at school. To help guide your teen, ask questions like, "If Katie is always talking about Heather, then is Katie the kind of friend you would like to have?" This is a great way to teach your teen how to choose godly friends without any conflict between the two of you.
Is it hard for you to keep the communication lines open with your teen?
What can you do to pursue an on going relationship with your teen?
Are you taking time to listen, respect them, and let them know they are valued?
Are your child's friends welcome in your home? Do you take time to know them?
How can you guide your teen towards godly relationships that honor Him?
Amos 3:3, Can two walk together, unless they are agreed? (NKJ)
Proverbs 12:26, The righteous should choose his friends carefully, For the way of the wicked leads them astray. (NKJ)
Proverbs 16:28, A perverse man sows strife, and a whisperer separates the best of friends. (NKJ)
Proverbs 17:17, A friend loves at all times. (NKJ)
Being a Great Mom, Raising Great Kids by Sharon Jaynes
The Five Love Languages of Teenagers by Gary Chapman
Originally published Tuesday, 29 June 2004.