Celebrating Teen Milestones
Think for a minute of all the life “firsts” that are experienced from the ages of 12-18, the typical age range of teens in a youth ministry. First date, first job, first kiss (maybe). And then there are historic life milestones such as receiving the driver’s license, registering to vote, graduating from high school. And of course, the adolescent years can introduce teens to other life events such as the loss of a pet, changing school districts or the breakup of a relationship.
As youth workers we are in a unique position to speak into those firsts that are indigenous to the teen years, using those events as opportunities to apply the biblical precepts we’ve been teaching all along (hopefully). One of the keys to learning anything (school work, Bible, music) is having a real, and even immediate, situation to which you can apply what you’re learning. It doesn’t get more real than a looming driver’s license exam or a palm-sweating first date. Connecting life milestones to Scripture is also an effective way to show teens how God’s Word can speak into our everyday lives, even if it doesn’t mention “driver’s license” or “dating.”
We know these events are coming in the lives of our teens, so why not be ready and creative in celebrating (or consoling) these cherished milestones? It’s even an opportunity for us youth workers to live out a key Bible precept: rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15). Below are a few example milestones along with suggested Scripture and ideas for celebrating the milestone. If you’d like a teen devotional that you can pass along for any of the milestones below (and a few others), you can find it at the InWord website here.
We’re pretty sure the Bible doesn’t give specific instructions related to driving a car. But it does give guidance on alertness and self-control, issues that directly impact the dynamics of getting a driver’s license and that might provide timely insight in light of a teen’s newly realized freedom and responsibility. Plus, a few references to chariots do give us some surprising perspective on actual driving.
Scripture to Share: Genesis 46:29; 1 Peter 5:8; Proverbs 14:29
Celebration Idea: Have the new driver pick YOU up and drive to Starbucks (where YOU will buy the coffee).
The First Job
We all have one. Our first day of our first job. Some of your teens have had their first day. For others, it’s still to come. Either way, it’s good to see what God’s Word has to say about work. It’s more than you might think.
Scripture to Share: Proverbs 14:23; Ephesians 4:28; Philippians 2:14-16
Celebration Idea: If appropriate, gather a group of teens and visit the newly employed teen’s workplace. If it’s a food establishment, order food. If it’s an office, take a care package of snacks and drinks for co-workers. If it’s a retail shop, have everybody purchase a small item. Of course, make it a brief visit and be sure to not distract from the business’ operation. (And be double sure you don’t keep the newly employed teen from doing his or her job; otherwise you will have another life milestone to mark: first firing).
The First Date
For most, the first date comes in the teen years. For some, it comes early in the teen years. For others, it comes later—even after high school. Some families have a “first date” age established. No matter when the first date happens, one thing is certain: a teen is entering a new era of life, an era for which he or she wants to be emotionally and spiritually prepared.
Scripture to Share: Philippians 2:3-4; Colossians 3:12; 1 Corinthians 6:18-20
Celebration Idea: Pass along the Scripture noted above and meet with the teen to simply talk about the new era of life he or she is entering (along with all the dynamics that can be expected), helping the teen set some resolve for the kind of dater he or she intends to be.
Barry Shafer has been in youth ministry over 25 years and is the author of UNLEASHING GOD’S WORD IN YOUTH MINISTRY. As director of InWord Resources, he has written many small-group Bible studies and teen devotionals. Barry lives in Middletown, Ohio with his wife Jessica, and their two toddlers, Reade and Rachel. You can connect with Barry through EMAIL, HIS WEBSITE, FACEBOOK, TWITTER, the INWORD BLOG or his PERSONAL BLOG.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.