Do you find making time for daily devotions a challenge? As busy as we are in our work life and relationships, we are also distracted with devices, to do lists and the demands of social media. This can be even more of a challenge for teens and young adults. The younger generation, known as digital natives, are more open to online distraction than any other. The challenge for them to set aside time for spiritual formation is perhaps even greater. Internet life for them is a 24 hour reality. So how can we, as parents and carers, help teens connect with daily devotionals?
Here are three things you can do today to help your teen in their spiritual journey.
1. Make It Easy
In his bestselling book Atomic Habits, James Clear writes about the importance of making new habits easy to establish.
“Redesign your life so the actions that matter most are also the actions that are easiest to do.“
He goes onto explain that we must make our new habits accessible, attractive and consistently within reach for them to truly stick. For digital natives, the Glorify App could be an easy and accessible way for them to engage in helpful devotional content. For parents and carers, we can support them in their journey by collaborating with them on the app too.
Get To Know The App
As you get to know your way around it, you can encourage them to get involved too. You may offer to share declarations or daily readings with them. Or play worship songs and meditation playlists through a smart speaker around the house. You may even find some helpful topical devotional material to work through together.
The app could be a shared space to build a closer relationship with your teen and who doesn’t want that?
Hand Held Devices Are Here To Stay
Helping our teens navigate life online has become a parenting priority. Scripture reminds us to:
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”
In my own parenting journey, I’ve had to learnt the resist the urge to talk down to my teen about their phone use. Instead, I’m learning to find a common ground and to help them engage with impactful spiritual content online. Hand held media devices are a significant part of our teens reality, so why not meet them where they’re at?
2. Make It Regular
We all recognise that habit formation takes time. Helping your teen with daily devotionals will likely need you to be engaged in this habit forming process. They may need some gentle reminders. But how can you encourage a habit of spiritual formation without becoming a nag? By making it a regular practice.
Setting some time aside once a week in a car journey or a coffee date can be a great place to start. A shared dog walk or shopping trip could work. However you do it, regular time set aside to talk, even if it seems unplanned, can help faith based conversations flow more naturally. Learning to ask open questions can be helpful too. You could ask them how are they finding their faith walk. Or if they have anything they’d like to ask you about ? Websites like gotquestions.org can be really helpful when it comes to answering the ‘big’ questions of life and faith. And it can be a helpful place to direct them too when they realise you don’t have all the answers!
A word of encouragement for those of us who wish we’d instigated good spiritual habits in our teens early years. Many of us wish we’d started sooner but in the words of a popular Chinese Proverb:
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
3. Make It Honest
One of the key characteristics of teens today (often called Gen Z) is that they are keen to “unveil the truth behind all things”. It should be a great comfort to us that the Bible is unflinchingly honest about all kinds of difficult topics. The sins of King David, the betrayal and restoration of Peter and the miracles of the book of Acts are laid bare for us to read in detail. Honest daily devotionals can help unpack these kind of big issues for teens.
If Scripture opens up these subjects in real and authentic ways, it should be an encouragement for us to do the same. In reality, we know we do not have all the answers to life’s challenging issues. But we can empathise with our teens honestly. And we can lead them to a Saviour who empathises with them too.
Honesty Is An Opportunity
And finally, be honest with your teen about your own faith journey. Never underestimate the power of sharing your own experiences with them. Maybe they are wrestling with something that you’ve overcome? That can be a great moment to encourage them. Maybe they have a helpful perspective on something you’re going through too? How many times have we as parent been blown away by the wisdom or perception of our own children, just when we needed it most?
2 Corinthians 1:4 reminds us that God Himself comforts us in all our troubles,
“So that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
This kind of mutual support can help them make progress on their devotional journey without the pressure of having to have it all figured out. As you are appropriately honest about the challenges you are facing, you can show them what it means to receive God’s grace. And that is one of the best examples of daily devotion that any parent can give to their teen.
For more on parenting and raising teens why not download some more resources on the Glorify App?