Working with young people, we will encounter teens that have problems because the truth is that if we work with people of any age, we will encounter people with problems.
As youth pastors and youth workers, we must be able to help equip these young people on how to handle and deal with these problems. What will follow will be some thoughts on how to help teens with their problems.
Some of the problems we will face will be difficult; questions like the following will arise.
- “Why is my family so messed up?”
- “Why did my parents get divorced?”
- “Why do I have to have a negative body image?”
- “Why do I have to look like this?”
- “Why am I bullied?”
So many why’s and they need to know what the Bible says about their issues.
1. Help them realize it’s normal for things to get heavy sometimes.
“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:”1 Peter 1:6
In this verse, the word heaviness means to distress and grieve. We may look at teens and their problems as small or insignificant, but to them, they’re heavy. We need to remember to be considerate and loving toward their heaviness.
We also need to be sure to let them know that heaviness is normal. Young people think so often that they’re the only ones going through it, but really we all have problems. It is also helpful for us to find youth workers that are from differing backgrounds to help with this. It’s good to have a youth worker who came from a broken home. It’s good to have a youth worker who lost a parent. It’s good to have a youth worker that got saved at a young age and also good to have a youth worker saved at a later age.
The more diversity your youth workers have, the better off you will be getting your young people to realize they’re not the only person going through heaviness and trouble.
2. Help them to see that heaviness comes from a test!
In this verse, we also see that heaviness comes through manifold temptations—the word “temptation” means a trial or test. Remember, the grief comes through a testing or one big problem.
This is the reason the world seems to be crashing down on many young people. Grief overcomes and overwhelms; it’s not something that can be dealt with or helped. But rather, a problem is something you can counsel through, work through, pray through, and trust God through.
We must get our young people to get past the grief and to the issue. One of the hardest things counseling people going through this is asking what is wrong and getting the overwhelming feelings but not being able to get to the bottom of what triggers it.
To help our young people, we must get them to see the problem. The problem may be bitterness, hurt, loss of trust, or lack of spirituality, but we can’t help if we don’t get to the test.
3. Help them to see the trial as profitable!
“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:”1 Peter 1:7
This one can really be a hard one because of all the whys mentioned earlier. Most of the time, our young people don’t even realize (and many times will never realize) why God is doing what He is doing in their lives, none-the-less that He is doing it for their good.
Romans 8:28 is a wonderful verse, but many times feels more like salt in a hurting wound than a healing balm because, in the middle of a mess, we can’t see how the mess can be for good.
We have to get our young people to see that their trial and their trouble is profitable. God is not mad at them. He is not punching or trying to kill them. Rather in His love, He is putting a mess in the midst to bring beautiful results.
Teach them scriptures like this one and direct them toward Christ and His care. Get them to see God’s love, and through that, see how profitable the struggle is in their life.
3. Help them with their thinking!
“Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;”1 Peter 1:13
The mind is the battleground for the devil! Satan would love nothing more than to lie to our teens as they go through trials. The trouble added with lies will end in sin and skepticism against God and the Bible.
The reason we are losing so many young people in our churches is that we aren’t teaching them to have a Biblical worldview when things aren’t rainbows and roses. We have taught them the stories of the Bible and the verses but not how to put them together and meditate on them to deal with real-life issues.
There is a huge need for real talk in our youth departments, and that starts with a youth pastor that can get real and be transparent.
We must teach our young people through life on life discipleship! They must see we hurt and struggle but overcome through Christ! They must see us get punched in the face and move forward because we have learned to control our thought life.
They must see us punched in the stomach by trials and keep on going, not doubting. They must see us look to the scripture to be our help, not the world or worldly counsel.
So many young people turn to friends and family that have a wicked worldly view of life and the world when they hit trouble, and they need to look to the scriptures. By the way, we have to get them past looking to us and get them looking into the Bible to get their mind where it needs to be. A young person won’t doubt the word when they’ve seen it work personally in their lives.
Teach them to meditate on scripture and to get their mind where it needs to be for the trials of their life.
These are just a few thoughts on how to help teens with their problems, but there are many more in the gold mine of scripture! I’d beg you to dig into the Bible and not be afraid to get real with your teens. Be willing to admit that you hurt. Be willing to let them know that you get discouraged and, yes, even at times, depressed. Let them know that sometimes you falter and fall, but you get back up. Why? Because of Christ and the truths of the word of God! Be willing to get real and take them to the Bible to help with their real problems.