Help your teenager to ask the right question

Posted on September 2, 2014 · Posted in Teenagers, Wisdom

An unexpected temptation arises in the life of your teenager.  He or she was not planning to make a life-altering decision, but the moment arrived nonetheless.  When this moment occurs, your teenager will ask one of two questions:


“What am I going to do?”


“What does God want me to do?”


Joseph was confronted by a passionate and powerful woman demanding to have sex.  He was alone in a pagan land.  Rejecting the advances of this woman would surely bring unpleasant consequences. Yet he had just one question on his mind:


“How could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?”


So, Joseph literally ran from the temptation before him. He was more motivated by what would honor God than trying to figure what was best for him. If you ask “What does God want me to do?”, you probably won’t know how things will work out, at least initially. But Joseph knew that whatever the consequences, honoring God was the best thing to do.


It is this fear of the unknown that often keeps you and your teenager from honoring God. For too many, it is not enough to simply ask what God wants.  So the tension builds. What am I going to do?


Once you have established the role of God’s authority with your young children, you then want to teach them to ask, “What does God want me to do?” This is the most important thing you can do for your children leading up to the teenage years. This will help them to see that having the goal of avoiding unpleasant circumstances will only bring disaster in their lives. This is relevant to understanding the gospel. Suppose Christ has chosen to avoid the cross? One of Satan’s most successful tactics is get people to focus on the path that is the least painful. Thankfully, Joseph cared more about what God wanted than his own personal well-being. 


From a human perspective, the entire history of God’s covenant people hung in the balance. If Joseph had yielded to Potiphar’s wife, there would have been no one to interpret Pharaoh’s dream. His family would have starved to death in Canaan. There would have been no twelve tribes, only dead sons. 


Joseph didn’t know that fleeing temptation would lead to years of prison. He did not know honoring God at this moment would be the route God had chosen that would lead to the rescue of his family from famine and preserve the lineage of Abraham. He only knew to ask most important question of all:


“How could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?”

Jay Younts
Jay Younts is the Shepherd Press blogger. He is the author of Everyday Talk and other materials on parenting. He has been teaching and speaking on parenting issues for 30 years. Jay and his wife, Ruth, live in Fountain Inn, South Carolina. He serves as a ruling elder at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Moore, South Carolina. He and Ruth have five adult children.