Every teen is in a battle. Parent, did you know that? I’ll say it again: every teen is in a battle. Including your
If this “battle” talk sounds like a bit of a stretch to you, let me tell you about Rhys. A few summers ago I spoke at a camp. After an evening session, one of the guy counselors, Rhys, asked if we could talk. A clean-cut nineteen-year-old, Rhys was heading into his sophomore year at a well known Christian college. His eyes reflected sadness that I couldn’t fathom. He told me he had a lot of nightmares and a lot of guilt. During his senior year of high school, Rhys and his girlfriend, Emily, were fairly typical Christian kids. They were both active in youth group, had pledged to abstain from sex until marriage, and were known in their circles of friends as “good kids.”
But on the night of their senior prom, everything went crazy. Rhys admitted, “One thing led to another, and we pretty much did it all that night. Fooling around, drinking, drugs…you name it.” Tragically, Emily overdosed on the drugs, went into a coma, and never came out of it. A week later, she died.
This is an extreme story, yes, but it happened. As I speak to highschool-age students around the country, I hear stories you wouldn’t believe. Welcome to the world of today’s teens. It’s a fight, and every
teen today is engaged in it.
This fight is about a tsunami of information, communication, anything- goes ethics, and the inevitable moral experimentation that results. It’s a world of light-speed Internet, texting, unlimited access to online
porn, oral-sex parties, MySpace, cutting, Wicca, drinking, drugs, and more.
The world of today’s teens moves at a pace you and I would never have dreamed of when we were teens. It’s a world where hooking up
has nothing to do with a fishing lure, spam
isn’t something you eat, and pharming
doesn’t require a tractor. Almost weekly, teens write to me about addictions to types of drugs that weren’t around twenty years ago. At seminars across the country, I meet students who have contracted sexually transmitted diseases.
By the time they graduate from high school, most seniors tell me, they have consumed alcohol and been offered drugs. Most teens I meet say that marijuana is easily accessible. It doesn’t matter whether they attend public schools or Christian schools; students know where drugs are used, kept, and sold. Many tell me they know a friend or classmate who has abused prescription drugs.
Here’s the fact that keeps me awake at night: Rhys and Emily could have been anyone’s teens. They are from a generation of teens bombarded by lies, hungry for help, and desperate for truth. Not every teen will face exactly what Rhys and Emily faced, but war is the daily reality for every teen.
That is why I say that as a parent, you are facing the fight of your life.
Maybe you’re thinking this book isn’t for you. Your teen appears to be doing well. And it’s true: there are many Bible-believing, church-attending teens who desire to live lives surrendered to Christ. Your teen may be one of them.
Or maybe you’re at the other end of the spectrum. The choices your teen has made so far have pushed your family to the breaking point. You’re feeling hopeless, ready to throw in the towel.
Wherever your teen is at in his or her journey, this book is for you. No matter what the situation looks like on the surface, every teen faces struggles, temptations, issues, fears, and challenges. Every teen has to navigate the confusing waters of today’s culture. Every teen is only one choice away from hurt, addiction, heartbreak, and more.
The scary thing with teenagers is that often we don’t know exactly what they’re thinking or feeling, even when they live under our own roofs! For the past fifteen years, I’ve been touring the country, speaking—
and more important, listening
—to teens. Some three hundred fifty thousand teens a year check out my Web site, and more than fifty thousand read and respond to my blog. Teens tell me things they often
don’t share with their parents. That’s why I wanted to write this book— not to break their confidences, but to give you the inside scoop on what I’m hearing so you can help your teen in the battle.
In the struggles teens face, they have a common enemy: the devil. And he hates these kids. More specifically, he’s your
teen’s number one enemy. His task is to steal, kill, and destroy (see John 10:10), and he wants to lure your teen away from the truth and lead your teen toward destruction. Sure, movement toward destruction is more evident in some teens than in others. But no teen is immune to spiritual warfare.
So, as a parent, your call is to grab your weapons, jump into the battlefield on your teen’s side, and be ready to give it all you’ve got.
The idea of fighting
for your teen might almost scare you off. Hey, you’re just trying to pay the electric bill, pick up the kids from soccer practice on time, and serve something for dinner that didn’t come from
But I won’t sugarcoat what’s happening in your teen’s world. As a parent, you are engaged in one of the greatest fights of your life. It’s already on, whether you want it or not. Every day a war is being waged
for the soul of your teen. The question isn’t, are you at war? The question is, are you equipped to do battle?
Here’s what the Bible says about it: “Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith
” (1 Timothy 6:11–12, emphasis added).
“Fight the good fight”—that’s the battle you are in. You are called to faithfully fight for what’s right. Just as Satan is fighting to steal, kill, and destroy your teen, so you must be a fighter, helping your teen to win!
Recently a mother talked to me about her teenage son. “Jeffrey,” she said, “my son has never smoked pot, checked out porn, or been sexually active. His grades are good, and his friends are well behaved. He loves going to youth group at church and believes God is calling him into pastoral ministry. I am so glad that God has given us our son.”
I congratulated her on the successes of her son and on her parenting skills, then asked, “What are you doing each day to ensure that your son continues down this good road?”
“What do you mean?” she said, looking perplexed.
“What steps have you put into place to safeguard your son from the Enemy?”
“I don’t know,” she said. “Everything’s going so well—I haven’t thought about it much.”
Together we discussed a plan for her to pray daily for her son, to keep speaking truths into his life, and to keep the lines of communication open with him about his personal life. Most important, we talked
about ways she could continue to help him grow in a daily and intimate walk with God.
That’s what the fight looks like in action.
It’s easy to believe that good parenting means checking off a list of positive accomplishments for a son or daughter:
√ My teen is a Christian.
√ My teen regularly attends youth group.
√ My teen dates a Christian (or doesn’ date at all).
√ My teen doesn’ watch MTV.
√ My teen ___________________ (has this form of observable good behavior).
You may be able to place a check beside any one or all of these statements. But helping your teen through these intense years isn’ simply about completing a checklist. You need to be looking ahead, adapting and strategizing as the flow of the battle changes, and working to both guide and guard your teen through obstacles to victory. It means approaching parenting on the offense as you work toward a goal, rather than sitting back and waiting for the other side to come at you.
Undoubtedly you’e heard messages about how to deal with personal struggles, how to climb back up after failing, how to overcome addictions, and the like. But what if, rather than living life on cruise
control, you lived life on enemy patrol—atching, being prepared, planning, developing a game plan for life, and putting into practice the principles that shape character and truth?
This is the idea behind the warning God gives in 1 Peter 5:8: “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
Odd has not created you to simply survive. He has created you to thrive, to experience the abundant life. When it comes to your teen, 1 Peter 5:8 warns that parents must be found with weapon in hand, ready
to fight on behalf of their teens. A mom recently said to me, “I realized years ago that I can’t sit around assuming that my kids are going to naturally come talk to me about all the stuff in their lives. I have to go to them. I have to initiate conversations. I have to look for moments of opportunity to get them
talking. Because if I don’t, I’l probably never know what they’re up against out there.”
That’s it! This mother is in the war room every day, plotting against the Enemy of her teen. She’s studying the Enemy’ tactics so she can guide and guard her teen as he moves toward a deeper and more intimate walk with God.
The idea of fighting can seem daunting. But my goal in this book isn’t to scare you. It’ to help you see that the fight is real, that you’re in it whether you like it or not, and that you can win the war.
This is your moment. When God created you, He created you to be the parent your teen needs you to be. God would never have given you the privilege of being a parent if He didn’ have an awesome plan
for you in the process. God has called you to be a fighter—and He has given you everything you need to fight and to win for your teen.
This book will help you go the distance. In the pages ahead, we’ll discuss strategies for going on the offense. We’ll talk about what it means to study your teen’ culture so you can live with your eyes wide
open—eady, armed, and alert. We’ll talk about how one of your greatest strategies, prayer, is actually one of the simplest and how the prayer of a righteous parent is an incredibly powerful and effective tool in this fight (see James 5:16). We’ll talk about specific issues your teen is facing (issues that definitely were not around when you were a teen), and we’ll look at how these issues don’ need to surprise you or catch you off guard. We’ll look at specific, detailed battle plans that include the tools and resources you need. We’ll talk about how your role isn’t to prop up your teen or ultimately save him or her, but to teach discernment and provide a solid foundation from which your teen can do battle. We’ll show you how to provide your teen with armor for fighting and wings for flying. And we’ll talk about the incredible privilege you have been given to encourage your teen to live wholeheartedly for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the fighter who is greater than anything this world can throw your teen’s way.
Right from the get-go, let’s take a look at five main fighting positions necessary for being armed and active in this fight. Keep these fighting positions in mind as you move forward to the following chapters.The Sweeping Aside Motion
This means, the past is in the past. Helping your teen win the war isn’t about questioning what you could have done yesterday. It is about establishing a battle plan for what you are going to do today, tomorrow,
and beyond. It’s never too late to reach out to your teen, to learn to communicate again, to listen, to speak words of wisdom into your teen’s life. Start today.The Gritting Your Teeth Gesture
This means, whatever it takes is whatever it takes. There will be times when you will be challenged to move out of your comfort zone. Your goal must be to arm yourself for battle and be ready to do whatever is necessary to guide and guard your teen through these entangling years. Be fearless.The Ultimate Power Stance
This means, pray for your teen every day. The Ultimate Power Stance is kneeling. If you are not praying for your teen every day, start now. If you are, keep it up. Prayer is the key to it all. I can’t reiterate this
enough. Praying for your teen is the single most powerful tool you have in this fight.The Open Book Motion
This means, you are now a student of teen culture. The world moves at an incredibly fast pace today. To keep up with what’s up in your teens' world takes time, energy, effort, and motivation. What’s current today might not have been current yesterday. From here on out, make it one of your primary ambitions to study and learn about the world your teen lives in.The Deep Breath Posture
This means, the battle is a fight of endurance. You develop a realistic strategy for success by taking it one step at a time. Remember, winning the fight is not about doing everything today. It’s about being faithful over the long haul.
Power for Your Toughest Job
Parenting is likely the toughest job you will ever have. Don’ assume that your teen is exempt from any issue discussed in the coming pages. At some point, on some level, every teen will encounter every issue described in this book. As a parent, you need to be equipped. It is my hope that this book will be a powerful resource you use to arm yourself and your teen to win the battle being waged for his or her soul.
Remember the Ultimate Power Stance? Let’ take a moment to pray right now for your teen, for what we’l talk about ahead in this book, and for how life may change.Praying Scripture for Your Teen
Lord, You say in Your Word that if we seek You we’l be able to find You. Troubles may come and awful things may happen, but You listen and You care. You’e a compassionate God. You will not abandon my family. Please guide me in this fight for my teen. You are God. You are good. Give me Your strength,
Your wisdom, and Your perspective. I put my trust in You. Amen.
BASED ON DEUTERONOMY 4:29
Excerpted from The Fight of Your Life by Jeffrey Dean. Copyright © 2009 by Jeffrey Dean. Excerpted by permission of Multnomah Books, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.