Tag Archives: spiritual health

The One Area We Need To Raise The Bar For Our Teens

My older son took the ACT for the first time in December. He’s a sophomore. It seemed early, but to assess where he needs to improve in order to consider certain schools it made sense to take it now. Many of your kids have done, or will do, the same. But most of us adults were probably juniors (or even seniors) before we took college entrance exams. Of course, we didn’t take AP or dual credit classes either.

Certainly, the bar has been raised.

What we also didn’t have were travel/competitive club sports’ teams or the pressure to specialize in just one sport (at least prior to high school). When I made the varsity soccer team as a freshman at my large public high school I was ecstatic. I hadn’t played in two years since it wasn’t offered at the middle school level and back then you only did what sport was in season. We weren’t thinking about college scholarships or staying competitive to secure future spots on high school varsity teams. Obviously, it is way different now. The hours our kids dedicate to their sport (or passion) has become a full-time job on top of their school.

The bar has been raised.

As if rigorous academic course loads and high performing athletics (music, debate, whatever) were not enough, look at most any high school seniors’ resumes and it’s quite amazing to see what else they’ve managed to accomplish. How they have time for school clubs, leadership positions, and hours of philanthropic work is beyond me. But many kids today (including mine) even serve on teen boards. When I was in high school, I didn’t even know what a non-profit was!

Again, the bar has been raised.

The bar having been raised for our kids comes with pros and cons. But in every realm the bar has been raised — except one. One that matters more than everything else. And that is, our kids’ spiritual life.

With all the other taking so much time, church, Bible studies, discipleship, family devotions, and time spent in the Word often happens only if one of the other obligations doesn’t conflict. But even then, instead of raising the bar as we have with everything else, we’ve lowered it.

As I heard author and speaker Jen Wilkin say in a talk at Rooted Ministry’s fall conference, why do we expect our kids to master chemistry, trig and other AP classes, but then think the Bible needs to be spoon-fed to them?

Why do we not include them in “big church?” Do we think they can’t sit still? Understand the message? That they will be bored?

We need to raise the bar!

If we’ve reduced the Bible talks they sit under to quick nuggets and the rest of the hour is spent on fun and games, we are not training them to think deeply about the scriptures.

If we think a 1-minute devotional book will lead them to treasure and seek God’s Word, when they spend hours on their phones, I’m afraid what the world says will hold more weight.

If we want kids who see their need for Jesus and cling to him and the church, they have to know who he is in light of who we are, otherwise it won’t be “life” for them. Plenty of other things can fill the need for community.

We need to raise the bar!

But maybe, we need to raise the bar for ourselves first.  What do we treasure? Our kids see, and for good or ill what we value will influence them. Evident by the high success of kids today, wherever the bar is set, they do tend to rise to the occasion.

It’s still a brand new year — a great time to evaluate where we’ve set what bars and what might need to be tweaked. My family included.

**The “Raise the bar” idea was taken from Jen Wilkin’s talk. You can read more in a similar article of hers here.