Teenagers Seeking Purpose
- Friday, January 20, 2012
You want your kids to fulfill every bit of their unique purpose in life. When you first hold your newborn, the future and its possibilities flash through your mind. Will she be a doctor? Will he be a lawyer? I want her to do well. I hope he is like his dad.
As your children grow, you are able to direct their dreams for a while. Life is good. Then something happens. All of a sudden, seemingly overnight, everything changes. The once amiable child is now a teenager and is no longer following your road map! He seems to have developed his own direction, forsaking what you had imagined for him. How did this happen?
As kids mature in the teen years, they begin searching on their own for meaning in life, a purpose for living, something that makes their life worth living. And that may not at all match what Mommy and Daddy thought it should be.
Why Am I Here?
One of the most important life questions your teen will begin asking and wrestling with is, "Why am I here?" or "What's my purpose on this Earth?" Without a purpose, life becomes motion without meaning; trivial, petty, pointless, and founded upon whatever the culture offers up as the latest "must have" material thing or "must do" activity.
"The man without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder—a waif, a nothing, a no man." -Thomas Carlyle
Pastor Rick Warren calls this pursuit for meaning the drive for purpose. In his blockbuster book "The Purpose-Driven Life," Warren offers the answer; "You were made for a mission. You aren't here just to wander around lost. And you aren't here simply to live for yourself."
I grew up in a time and home where people believed that God had a plan for each of our lives. I was taught that each person is as unique as the fingerprints stamped on their digits, and that God wanted a personal relationship with me. I learned that I was uniquely created, fearfully and wonderfully made, and that Christ died for "me." I was told that I was precious in God's sight.
So, why are kids so lost today? Are parents no longer passing on these same values to their children? I am convinced that if more kids knew their purpose, they'd have fewer struggles in the teen years. They'd feel a sense of meaning; they'd know where they are headed and concentrate on getting there.
When I look back at my own life, my work, and my happiness about fulfilling God's purpose for my life, I get excited all over again. It all started from a point in my life when I felt hopeless, lost, and not knowing where to turn. At that point I started asking questions about my own purpose in life, and I started listening to the answers God was giving me.
Showing Your Teen How to Find Their Life Purpose
"Between this day and the next you will give your life to something. The decision on what that will be will shape your destiny." -Rick Warren
A good place to begin the search for purpose is to understand that purpose is woven into every strand of the fabric of our lives. It has to do with God-given talents, the experiences in our life, and those things which give a person "goose bumps" or a tear to their eye when they think about them. Moreover, purpose has to do with using those talents to serve God and others, not one's self.
So, has your teen ever taken stock of their talents and gifts? Are they a great talker, or a great listener? Are they skilled at building things, or are they good with people? Is their talent more cerebral or more physical? I suggest they make a list of the things and activities that interest them and those in which they excel. There are a number of places on the Web that they can take online Spiritual Gifts Tests. They can also ask themselves, "What's the one thing that I do better than others?" This can clue them in to their God-given purpose.
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