Tough Topics for Teens: The Confidence You Lack

You dress in your best, but you still feel ugly.
You know the answers, but you never speak out.
You want to make friends, but you always freeze up.
You are willing to witness, but the last time you failed.
You would like to try, but you are afraid you’ll look foolish.

The teen years are tough. In a few short years you get a new body, new attitudes, new desires, and new responsibilities. The hard part is that you have to deal with all these new aspects while surrounded by people. Even worse, Hollywood projects perfect-looking teens, perfect-looking friends, perfect- looking families – perfect-looking lives. And you?

How could an average-looking teen, with average-looking friends, and living in an average home be anything but average? The struggle with inaccurate and negative thoughts of self is something many teens fight. Is there any remedy?

The Pill of Perspective

A warped human nature drives people to extremes. A proud, bragging believer does not view his sinfulness the way God does. A depressed, fearful Christian does not see God’s strength and worthiness. Viewing yourself as God sees you helps you face your deficiencies and keeps you from overconfidence. Really, you don’t need more self-confidence; you need a more accurate view of your inabilities and of God’s abilities. What a gracious God He is! Could you trust Him to tell you what you are? Could you rely on His ability to help you day by day? Paul had taken the pill of perspective when He wrote to the Ephesians. He recognized his failure and lack of merit and yet rejoiced in God’s power, favor, and plenitude of mercy.

The Vitamin of Value

The need to feel noticed, significant, and appreciated is universal. Little children, and even some teens and adults, go to great lengths to be approved and valued by others. Even Pilate craved importance; to gain the crowd’s favor he allowed the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus.

Does your value really depend on the applause and praise of others? Consider God’s incredible estimation of you: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36). You, alone, are worth more than all the cash in all the world banks. Even more, Paul wrote, “you are bought with a price.” God was willing to purchase you at the high conceivable price: the life and blood of His dear Son.

If you could enjoy your importance and preciousness to God, you wouldn’t need to “get a boyfriend who makes you feel special” at age 16. If you aren’t the funniest, the most outgoing, or the most liked in class, it will not change how valuable you are. Focusing on what God thinks of you will humble your heart, sanctify your life, and free you to live, confiding (there’s the word!) in His love and His estimate of you.

The Antibiotic of Acceptance

The longing to be accepted by others drives many teens to join gangs or stick with friends of bad influence. To be accepted by others may cause you to go against your convictions and disobey the Lord. Acceptance is a most powerful need.

The Christian teenager is not exempt from the magnetic pull to be “part of the group.” Wouldn’t it be wonderful if somebody were to accept you just the way you are – even if he or she knew all about your defects, limitations, inabilities, and even all your sin? Welcome to the Bible! God says, “He hath made us accepted in the beloved [One]” (Eph 1:6). God called you just as you were – a sinner! He knows all your faults and failures. He knows how evil your desires can be, how limited your abilities are, and how far you are from perfect. And yet, He has chosen to “accept you” and “adopt” you into His family. Why would He do that? Obviously, it is not because you deserve it; God accepts all who are connected to His Son by faith. You are accepted “in the Beloved One,” just as much as if you were His Son.

So, you belong, brother! You are accepted, sister! Even if you accidentally made a fool of yourself, sinned, or were rejected by others, nothing changes. Your heavenly Father still loves you and accepts you in Christ; don’t base your acceptance or fear of rejection on others. Although everyone should strive for improvement, there is no need to have group approval or fear of rejection. The greatest Person of all has “accepted” and “adopted” you once and forever.

The Surgery of Selflessness

Depression and worry can turn your focus to self. It is easy to be consumed with how you look and how you feel. The Apostle Paul gave us the model of the mind of Christ by saying, “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Phil 2:4).

If you truly believed your friend could be in hell, would you really mind “looking foolish?” Spiritually, there is no limit as to what you could do for God. Physically, you could not find enough hours in the day or pennies in your pocket to help others. The needs are infinite; look for them. So, when you are feeling down on yourself, first confess your selfishness to God, then go and help someone. Who could you encourage by a call or visit? What could you do to make someone’s life brighter? Write a note of appreciation to an elder; cut a believer’s lawn; baby-sit a sister’s five children to give her a break; cover a neighborhood with invites and gospel papers. Go and “give your neck” for the sake of others.

Focus on others and you will become consumed with the things of your loving God. He made you and saved you to serve Him. Enjoying life depends on forgetting self and becoming consumed with love and care for others, just like our Savior.

Living with God’s viewpoint of who you are, what you have done, and what you could do is the only prescription for joy and peace in your heart. So, go get your Bible and get more of God’s thoughts and practice more of God’s ways and find others in need. This will make all the difference in The Confidence You Lack.