Due to the recent events regarding sexual scandal with one of our nation's most prominent Christian leaders, it is important for us, as parents and leaders, to know how to talk to our teenagers about these situations. We need to help them process what they are hearing so they do not become disillusioned and weary of trusting Christian leadership and other authority figures in their lives. It is important for us to remember that we should provide an example of how to live and teach them how to respond when horrible breaches of trust occur.
1. Our commitment to Christ should go beyond any particular leader, whether or not they stand strong for Christ. In the 1980s, when several scandals involving prominent Christian leaders surfaced in the news media, I remember looking at those very public Christian figures who fell and thinking, "If they can't stand for Christ, how will I possibly do it? Can anybody do it?" As I have thought through what my response would be personally in the midst of the most recent indiscretion of a Christian leader, I remember the Lord bringing me to a place, to a condition where ultimately I said to myself, "It doesn't matter to me if every single person who I look up to or admire or who calls himself or herself a Christian falls away and turns their back on God. What Jesus has done in my life is so real I could never turn my back on it and I will never turn my back on it." This kind of commitment will protect us from becoming disillusioned in our own walks with Christ. Helping and nurturing our young people until they have that kind of resolve and determination must be part our goal as parents and leaders.
2. This is a life lesson of the power of deception. If influential and dynamic leaders can be deceived, then who among us is safe from deception? Recently we've had a rash of illusionists, both on television and in the motion picture industry. Illusionists provide an intriguing phenomenon, but the fact is they are simply tricking our eyes. Satan is a deceiver and craftier than any other illusionist weve ever seen. The fact is that sin, like in the case of Samson, makes you stupid. You dabble in it a little bit, and it makes you numb to reality and the consequences you are going to deal with. So you dabble a little bit more, until it consumes you. We know the Bible says that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light and that he is a wolf in sheep's clothing. He is not going to come right out and tell you he's the devil and ask you to follow him. We have to see through the deception, and the only way to do that is to learn truth. If one of the most famous illusionists were to tell you how he did his trick, you'd never be fooled by the trick again. That's our job. We need to understand the truth so we can see through the deceit that's coming our way. Because Satan's power to deceive, starting with Eve, is so sinister, we must be vigilant in preparing ourselves to see through deceitful lies of the enemy, who wars against our flesh.
3. We need to help rebuild trust. Obviously, when trust is broken with a major credible person in our lives, it is easy to understand why people don't want to trust anyone. We need to guard our children against the propensity to not trust anyone. Every relationship we havemarriage, friendship, authority figures, and spiritual mentorsis built on trust. If we cant trust them, then we become isolated and lonely. Just because someone gets their heart broken doesnt mean they never get married. They have to learn to trust again. The most fundamental trust would be for you as a parent making it easy for your children to answer the question, Why should I trust you? They shouldnt wonder if we have something to hide or if there is a second part of our lives that we arent showing them. It is important for us to help them see reasons to trust us as spiritual leaders and as parents.
For example: be vulnerable with your weaknesses. Dont pretend that you are perfect. Ask for forgiveness and ask them to pray for you if there is an area of your life that is weak. Also demonstrate how you are accountable to others, whether it is your ministry board or other couples with which you openly share your challenges and struggles. Helping to communicate to your teens how you deal with weaknesses and how you become strong in areas where you are weak allows them to witness the truth that the pursuit of holiness is a life-long journey. Our transparency as leaders and parents helps them to understand that, no matter your age or position in life, your reliance and dependence on God must remain strong.
In conclusion, there is a battle raging for this generation and it would be just like the enemy to take a very public catastrophe and get us off track and derail our efforts to rescue a young generation. This only highlights the battle that is aimed particularly at young people to deceive them. Let us be the leaders and parents that fortify our own strength and resolve, and as a result, fortify our young peoples strength and resolve to look to Jesus Christ no matter what happens around us. As we step into the New Year, we must not become distracted in the fight to save this generation, but rather become more determined as we move forward in the battle. Log onto www.BattleCry.com to see how you can reach out to teens in your area.
Ron Luce is the founder of Teen Mania, one of the world's largest Christian youth organizations, which inspires, empowers, and equips teens to reject the negative influences of pop culture and embrace the "coolness" of Christ. This year, Teen Mania is rallying hundreds of thousands of teens in the BattleCry movement to save their generation. For more information, visit www.BattleCry.com.