Begin with the end in mind
As we prepare our kids for the real world it is great to have some clear goals. A Harvard Prof provides a useful list of skills we should help teens develop before college or university. I think that for Christian students there are a few more that we should add to the list. Take a look at how far along your teen is…
The Harvard List
(If you would like to take a look at the original article you can find it here “What are the skills every 18-year-old needs?” )
Here is a quick overview of the 8 –18-year-olds must be able to:
- talk to strangers
- find their way around
- manage their assignments, workload, and deadlines
- contribute to the running of a household
- handle interpersonal problems
- cope with ups and downs
- manage money
- take reasonable risks
Without unpacking each of the 8 items above, I imagine that you can see why each is so important. Young adults who do not master these skills will suffer consequences. If we constantly do these things for them or bail them out when things go wrong, we will find that they do
Other Items for Christians
For Christian young people, there are some additional items that God expects.
Every 18 year old believer should be able to:
- Explain why they believe in Jesus
- Maintain a daily routine of prayer and bible study
- Volunteer in the church or community at least one hour a week
- Practice godly discernment of media, money and lifestyle choices
- Give a percentage of their money regularly to God’s work in the world
- Participate in worship at a church each week
Many parents would be thrilled if their son or daughter would just get out of bed on Sunday to attend Church. Despite what they have taught and modeled for their teen, their son or daughter has chosen a different path. Even this is a possible outcome, I have found that working toward these goals from a young age makes them more possible.
We want to produce responsible adults. We also want to ensure that we are also making disciples as Jesus commanded us before we returned to heaven.
It is true that sometimes we have to readjust our expectations but the ideal is that by 18 years a teen will own their faith and take responsibility for serving, giving, and participating in the life of the church.
If we aim for nothing we are certain to achieve it. The same way that we stopped spoon feeding our toddlers we need to help teens to learn to develop regular spiritual disciplines.
I think the process goes something like this:
- Do it for them and they watch
- Do it with them
- Let them do it and you watch
- Let them do it and report back
Ultimately we want to see our adult children pass on their faith to their children. Aiming for responsible Christian disciplines by 18 is a great way to see that happen.