Communicating the Gospel, God’s Goodness to your Teenagers

The wise in heart are called
pleasant words promote instruction. Proverbs 16:21

If the wisdom of God has entered your heart then you can say
that God has been good to you. This pleasantness of heart should result in pleasant
words from your mouth. What do I mean by pleasant words? I’m not talking about careful,
manipulative words that play polite “control” games with others. No, pleasant
words should illustrate the genuine joy and pleasure that results from experiencing
the power of the Gospel in your life. You and I deserve the torment of hell, but
through gospel grace we receive the wonderful mercy of God. This reality must
be translated into the language that you speak to your children.  God may use any number of different ways to
bring your children to Christ. But the one way that must not be ignored is the
words that you use to talk to your children. The thread that begins with the
goodness of God that brings pleasant, intimate knowledge of him to your soul
must extend to the very words that you use to give direction and counsel to
your children.


In the next two posts we will see how this works itself out
practically. I am going to start with communicating the gospel to your
teenagers. No, I don’t have in mind a super tract, or an encoded, subliminal
message that you can slip into their iPods. Actually, it’s not very complicated.
Christians live totally dependent upon the grace of God. You have received
treasure and blessing beyond human comprehension. You know that God has been
good to you, that your sins are not held against you. You know that you have
not been treated as your sins deserve. This is part of the reality that is the
gospel. Now, what happens when your teenagers sin against you or shown immaturity
in their behavior? The words that come from your mouth in these situations indicate
just how pleasant the gospel is to you. Here is a conversation, actually a monologue
between a father and his son. The son is 20 minutes late coming back from a
youth group activity.

Uh, hi dad, sorry I am late, there was a lot of traffic on the Interstate

I told you not to be late. In case you hadn’t noticed, it is now late. You
know you are not supposed to be late. When I say don’t be late, I mean don’t be
late. Don’t tell me about the traffic. If you were serious about not being
late, you would have left earlier.

What is it that you don’t understand about not being late? I can’t
spank you anymore, but I will make sure that you understand that you can’t be
late. I guess you don’t think very much of me, because if you did you would not
be late!

After dismissing his teenager he
says to his wife something like this –

I just don’t know how to get through to that kid. At least I didn’t
totally lose it, even though I wanted to. He is just going to have learn to be
responsible. How will he ever keep a job? I hope someday he realizes I am doing
him a big favor by not giving him a pass on this stuff.


This communication between an unhappy parent and his equally
unhappy teenager reveals many things, but not much about the gospel. Some of
what this parent is observing needs to be addressed. His teenager should be
responsible and get back on time. However, how the dad communicates this is
important. If pleasant words promote instruction, what will these words do?

Yes, his son needs help. But so does dad. If God has been good
to dad, is that goodness shown to his son? What would the impact of the gospel
look like in this situation?

Uh, hi dad, sorry I am late, there was a lot of traffic on the Interstate
and there was an accident and I wasn’t watching the time.

Come on in and sit down; heavy traffic can definitely mess things up. I
am thankful to God that you are okay and not in the accident.

Yeah, dad, it was pretty bad. EMS was
just leaving when I went past. It looked like somebody was hurt.

That’s why we pray for safety – driving these days is not a piece of
cake … Okay, talk to me about being late.

I know, I really tried, but time just got away from me.

What about that fancy phone of yours? Does it have an alarm on it?

Uh, yeah it does. Hey, that’s an idea. I could set the alarm for when I
should leave.

Maybe, set it a few minutes early, just to give you some extra time,
you know, in case of traffic?

Okay, okay, I get the point. You know if you would leave your cell
phone on I could send you a text when I leave.

We’ll see, I still don’t get the texting stuff … Son, do you understand
about the importance of being on time?

Yeah, dad. I am getting there. Thanks for being cool tonight. I know I
need to do better.

Thanks son, we can both pray about that.


There are no magic words to make a conversation work. This
conversation is the result of much prayer and looking into God’s Word about how
to respond to difficult situations. This father has been focusing on God’s
goodness to him as being the basis of his response to his son. This is not an
isolated situation. A lot of work went toward making this conversation possible.
Passages like Proverbs 16:20-24; Matthew 18:21-35; and Matthew 21:28-32 helped Dad
to focus on the gospel and not poor performance.

If the knowledge of God is pleasant to your soul, let this
pleasant knowledge find its way into your conversations. I know that there are
issues with teenagers that are more challenging than this situation. But give it
some thought. See what principles you can draw from these illustrations. If you
have thoughts or questions let us know.

Shepherd Press