D is for Decisions.
I decided (see what I did there?) after Day 3 in this series to abandon the day by day progression, and just go thru the alphabet in order, listing specific qualities/issues/needs that I want to see our young men find success with.
Today’s pressures on young people are intense. They need our support as well as our counsel. But even more than that, our young men really need us as parents and friends to be lifting them up in prayer.
About This Series
I began this series back in February, fully intending to do a post a day through the month, and through the alphabet. When I got to this post, I decided to go at a more easy pace.
Interestingly, it was during that same week that one of our sons hit a crisis because of some decisions on his part. As any parent knows, decisions made by one affect all. This post, though largely already written, got shelved, but not because of it’s irrelevant. In fact, it’s the most relevant post because it’s very close to home.
Right after catching our breath a little from that circumstance, we had a family crisis of another kind—where my mom fell, broke her femur, resulting in us living with them for a month to care for Dad. Those who follow my blog know this.
Anyway, I found with so much going on, I could not mentally pull myself together to write. I’m a person who needs a mental break in order to think, and being on duty 24/7 just engaged my brain too much, Even though the work wasn’t so difficult, I knew I was the responsible party.
Now that we are home more, I’m trying to get back into this series, at the pace of life. For anyone interested, here are the first three posts in this series, plus a bonus!
D is for Decisions.
Decisions, decisions, decisions.
Young men have a ton of decisions!
Every time they turn around, someone is asking them,
- “What do you want to do when you graduate?”
- “Are you going to college?“
- “Which college do you want to attend?”
- “Are you going to get a car?”
- “Do you have a job?”
- “What kind of a job will you pursue?”
- “Do you have a girlfriend?”
- “Where do you want to live?”
- “What do you want for supper?”
- And on and on…
But maybe what we should be asking our young men is,
- How are you doing with God?
- Do you sense God’s leading you in a career path?
- Are you asking Him to guide you?
- How is your quiet time going?
- Do you have a friend you’re connecting with?
- Is there anything you’d like to talk about?
- What are your prayer needs?
- What do you need to do to feel more secure for your future?
The Big Decisions
If you’re a mom, your boy will probably decline a conversation on these topics. That is, on most days. However, if you do your best to keep the communication open, there may be times when he’s willing to open up a little.
Whether he talks about them or not, your teen will be making the most important decisions of his life in the next few years. He needs guidance he especially needs prayer. Satan is ready to pounce on your son and destroy him for this life and for eternity. He does that one decision at a time.
The thing about teens is that they don’t realize that the decision they make in a moment will affect them for life. For good or for bad. It hardly seems possible that one decision could be so important. Yet that’s precisely the way it is.
Ripple Effect of Decisions
Also, teens don’t understand how the ripple effect works. One good or bad decision (particularly the bad, for some reason) not only effects the person making the decision, but his or her parents, friends, younger siblings, extended family, and even other church members. And, believe it or not, one person’s decisions can, and do, affect people who don’t even know him. As they hear the tale of choices made, that either gives those strangers ideas for good or for evil. If you doubt me, just think back to your own teen years and try to remember the power of reputation, even from young people you’d never before met. As they say, “Your reputation precedes you!”
Decisions Now Lead to Future Results
I have, in a very feeble way, established the truth that teens don’t understand the full impact of their decisions. They may not get that until sometime in later years, when they have the advantage of some years and experience under their belts. For this reason, our young men need our prayers for their decisions.
I assume that if you are reading this post, you are either a parent of a young man, or perhaps a grandparent or friend. In the rare case, you actually may be a young person seeking direction. Whatever category you belong to, you are here because of the conviction that praying for our young men and their decisions is of vital importance.
But I know how it goes.
“The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
That applies to those is us making decisions, but I find that it applies in my prayer life the most. It’s pretty easy to know what to pray for. It’s the actual praying that we need.
Why Do They Do That?
Without going too deeply into the function and development of the adult brain vs the teen brain, we can simply state that teen brains just aren’t fully mature yet. This leads to differences in how adults and teens look at the world, and thus, how they make decisions.
Typically, the prefrontal cortex does not fully develop in boys until they are at least in their mid-twenties—like age 25-26. This is the area that determines self-control, conscience, delayed gratification, and judgement. Do you see the problem for young men making adult decisions with a brain that’s not ready for it? This is why we’ve encouraged our teens to wait awhile before deciding on a wife—their brains and priorities will change a lot over the next ten years!
That said, we have to deal with the here and now. So, our prayers are vital, coupled with our guidance and that of wise adults. But teens typically prefer counsel among themselves. Rather a dangerous game.
Here are a few graphic, web references on the images, dealing with the changing teen brains. This should just serve as a reminder that teens will need a lot of input and help, at the same time believing that do not need this help.
Just Do It
So, pray for your young men and their decisions. They need it. But pray also that you and I will not let our sons down by neglecting our own prayer life.
If they are the boat on the water, drifting about, and Jesus is the Lighthouse, then maybe we are like the lighthouse keepers. It’s not a perfect example, but our sons need to see the Light to have life and direction. And we have a job to do, to watch out for our children, and see if they are in danger. We can’t physically rescue them every time, but we can do our part to keep the flame lit. If we see our young men out in danger, we will do what we can to go get them, but in order for us both to make it back, we will both have to look at the Light.
Pray for our young men. They have great futures ahead. They have big decisions to make. They can succeed. Pray that their decisions lead them safely to the shore for this life and for eternity.
A few resources we’ve used, and are currently using, include
Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens (our boys were listening to the audiobook version). This speaks to the teens with common-sense advice.
The ABC’s of Bible Prayer, by Glen Coon. There are many books on prayer, but this one is the one that I find the most helpful. It’s out of print, but you can often find a used copy, and I’d highly recommend that.