Our words are very powerful, especially when speaking to youth who are forming their sense of identity and self-worth. They have the power to build up, and to tear down, the power to inspire and to dishearten, the power to encourage or discourage. Whether you are a parent, a teacher, a youth minister, or just a friend of youth here are 5 simple things to consider.
The next time you want to say something to a youth, T.H.I.N.K. first.
Before you say something you might regret, ask yourself these 5 simple questions. If the answer is “No” to any one of these questions, then you might not want to say it to a youth. Teens are very sensitive to the words we say. The following scriptures have had general references to people replaced with the word “youth” or a variation to bring more focus to our conversations with those who are youths.
1. TRUE? – Is it true?
- Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, in reference to youth, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)
- Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment. (Proverbs 12:19)
2. HELPFUL? – Is it helpful?
- Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building youth up according to their needs, that it may benefit the teens who listen. (Ephesians 4:29)
3. INSPIRING? – Is it inspiring?
- But encourage teenagers daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness (Hebrews 3:13)
- Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur youth on toward love and good deeds. (Hebrews 10:23-24)
4. NECESSARY? – Is it necessary?
- Walk in wisdom toward youth, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each teenager. (Ephesians 4:5-6)
- But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken to youth. (Matthew 12:36)
5. KIND? – Is it Kind?
- Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice toward youth. (Ephesians 4:31)
- He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend. (Proverbs 22:11)
- Instead, speaking the truth to teens in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. (Ephesians 4:15)
Another way to look at this is to consider how to reword what you have to say to teenagers so that it fits these 5 guidelines. So the next time, before you say something to a youth, THINK first!
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