How do I teach a teenager around fifteen years old to step out in faith?
This truly is a good question. In our family, and as Mormons, we believe strongly that sincere, honest questions are always a good thing. To gather answers to this question, we talked to our adult kids and their spouses, and here are the answers we gathered:
When Jesus walked on water and invited Peter to come join him, Peter’s faith waxed, and Peter walked on water for a three or six feet. When Peter’s faith waned, Christ said to him:
O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
Watch, and focus on how amazing it would be to walk that three feet. With His question, was Christ scolding Peter, beckoning Peter to think how he might walk further next time, maybe a bit of both?
(Or watch/download same video at lds.org link.)
For many of us, if not all of us, from time to time, faith may either wax or wane. What are some ways that we may teach our kids or grandkids not only to walk by faith but to step out in faith? Not just to mosey along the strait and narrow but rather to hasten down the path. Not just to act in faith but to act in faith with a bit of spunk!
Here are some ways that worked that we have found to teach 15-yr-old-ish teenagers to step out in faith:
- Set an example; model the behavior.
- Teenagers need to be taught, “Stick to your guns!” I hated it when my mom told me that, but now that I’m older, I now know that it was exactly what I needed to hear.
- Teach the Why. Help teenagers understand the Why of things, both in and out of a religious realm. Beginning at 13 or 14 years old, you need to feed those cognitive processes.
- Help teens see the need to be anxiously engaged in the gospel.
- Encourage teenagers to bear testimony, to attend testimony meetings or other group opportunities to share what they know, to share that they know. Even if they’re silent the whole time, they get to be thinking about their own testimony for 45 minute or whatever. You think, “I don’t have anything to say, and maybe I should.” I definitely learned things from standing and sharing with friends my feelings about spiritual things.
- One of the best things you did, Dad, when I pushed back and challenged you on stuff, was to say, “Because I’m your father.” I had to suck it in and do it anyway, only because you asked me. Heavenly Father does the same thing to all of us, over and over, and He expects me to do it even if I don’t understand, even if I don’t agree that it’s right.
- My parents were so Mormon all the time. I kept thinking, “Do we have to be so Mormon all the time?” It took me a while to finally get that, Yes, we do! We do this to be the same inside and outside the home, just like Atticus Finch (of To Kill a Mockingbird fame).
- After a lesson for family home evening, I love that we always posted the lesson visuals on the walls around the house. Same with pictures of the temple, of Christ, of the Family Proclamation. It helped remind me, but it also gave me missionary opportunities. It taught me not to be embarrassed by friends’ questions, no matter what they were.
- In our home, we had a picture of Christ in our front room. All my friends, as they left, they’d always say, “ ‘Bye, Jesus!” It was a bit flippant, but it was never snide, and it helped my friends in and out of the Church to maintain a proper standard of behavior, no matter where we were.
- All the things that we’ve listed apply not only to teenagers but also to people of any age, even to adults.
And let us know how we may help you further! If you find that you have any questions about religious issues that you’ve been wondering about or that you haven’t been able to get good answers to, feel free to continue on discussion with us. It turns out that there are a lot of people with questions, and most of them have given up on churches as a source of answers. In our family, it is our experience that answers are out there, that God wants us to have them, and that they tend to be answers we like and have learned to appreciate. Working together with Heavenly Father allows anyone to find certainty in uncertain times.
-Dave and the MormonPanorama Family
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1. Read, watch or listen: Elder Neal A. Maxwell’s entire address, delivered as he was called to be one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ.
2. Watch or listen: Videos on Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
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WebCredits—List of web resources used in this post but not explicitly credited above:
- Photo, Waves-in-Hawaii—www. org/media-library/images/oceans?lang=eng
- Photo, Community-on-the-ocean—www. lds.org/media-library/images/oceans?lang=eng
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