What do you, Joan of Arc, and Alexander the Great have in common? Joan, a peasant girl, rallied France’s army, leading them to history-changing victories. Alex, the son of a Macedonian king, conquered Europe, India, Egypt, and Syria—pretty much all the world he knew. And then there’s you. “I can barely conquer my calculus homework,” you mutter. But if you think you have nothing in common with a French heroine or a Greek legend—think again!
Take a closer look at Joan charging ahead with troops in tow. See those freckles and blemishes? Yes, she’s a teenager! And Alexander, when you’d expect him to be delivering papers or flipping burgers part time, the sixteen-year-old has already founded Alexandroupolis, his first colony. If you see a teenager, we’ve found the link! It’s Joan, Alex, and you.
The problem with mirrors is that they highlight the freckles and the blemishes, but born-again teens have something far more important happening inside. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Phil 2:13). So while your eyes focus on the peasant or the prince above the bathroom sink, you might be missing the potential God sees. Step away and pick up the divine mirror. Your Bible is teeming with teens. Teens into whom God put that same will and ability to do His good pleasure. Teens who responded by “working out their own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12), afraid of just drifting through the best years, trembling at the thought of missing their Lord’s purposes in life, pursued their salvation toward its ultimate goal—Christlikeness. This series of articles focuses on the truth that God understands teens, values them, and uses them—then and now.
The post-teen people have a problem: too often we think of the teen years as purely transitional. “It’s about taking the trip from childhood to adulthood,” we tell you. “When you arrive you can get out, but in the meantime, keep your seatbelt fastened and look out the window!” Then we grumble about the generation in the rearview mirror with iPod turned up, arms folded, staring blankly at the spiritual landscape.
I hope you’re not waiting to arrive to get started with spiritual things, because, frankly, you never will. There is no car ride to spiritual maturity, and you’ll never coast into the “right age.” Now is the time to pull out the ear buds and get unbuckled. The back seat is comfortable, but you’ll actually start moving when you start walking.
Samuel did. “Old and gray,” he looks back on life and says, “I have walked before you from my youth until this day” (1 Sam 12:2, ESV). Obadiah did: “I thy servant fear the Lord from my youth” (1 Kings 18:12). David did. If Psalm 71 is his, he wrote, “For Thou art my hope, O Lord God: Thou art my trust from my youth” (v 5), and “O God, Thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared Thy wondrous works” (v 17).
Walking. Learning. Fearing. Trusting. Real teens—real experiences with God. Hands-on spirituality that produced giants. Is that your life? Or is it time to unbuckle and join them?
Towering trees & corner pillars
In the last part of Psalm 144, David talks about the blessings he’d most like to see. He tops the list with teenagers. “May our sons in their youth be like plants full grown, our daughters like corner pillars cut for the structure of the palace” (v 12, ESV). He wasn’t looking for ground cover or floor tiles. He wanted Israel’s youth to be full-grown, structure-supporting, developed, and dependable, towering, beautiful, and in plain sight.
David knew that the best years for men to grow strong and tall spiritually are the early years. The habits you form now will shape your trunk. The spiritual goals and ambitions you set now will determine where your branches grow. The roots you push down deep now will determine the foliage and fruit to come. A teen who makes the Lord and His Word a priority “shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper” (Psa 1:3).
David knew that a woman’s true beauty and spiritual stability is best developed as a teenager. The KJV reads, “That our daughters may be as corner stones, polished after the similitude of a palace.” She is needed. You can’t do without a corner stone, nor will an assembly stand for long without young sisters with spiritual desires. She’s appreciated. The young lady displaying Christlike character shines with beauty suitable for the King’s palace. She’s a teenager carefully placed and polished by her Lord’s hands.
You’re in Good Company
It takes one to know one. And you can be sure that the Bible’s teens have been where you are. If you’ve learned a little French or Spanish, you’ll find the word “pain” in “adolescent.” But maybe you’ve already found it the hard way. Joseph felt the pain of rejection. Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah felt the pain of standing alone. Mary felt the pain of being misunderstood and judged by others. Add to that list: Joshua, Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, and John and you’ll quickly see that you’re in good company. But pain turns to praise. We will discover how these teens triumphed—and what got them through. In God’s hand you have every potential they had. Discover how He works out His purposes, and another teen will emerge on the world stage. Your name might not appear in Wikipedia, but the eternal impact could easily eclipse that of Joan or Alex. The Lord loves to use teens—will He find a willing one?