By Laura Sumpter
The freshness of the sea air and the whisper of the wind brushed my face as I pushed open the creaky wooden gate.
Our excursion had taken us to the home of an elderly lady who sat near us every Sunday at church.
“Come around to the back,” she called to my mom.
My feet crunched on the gravel path as the gate opened to reveal one of the most exquisite sights my teenage eyes could take in.
A serene garden sat in the center of a small residential neighborhood, hidden behind the sounds of bike riding, dog chasing, and hide-and-seekers squeals of joy.
Catching my breath, I stopped to take in the view. I felt like I had stepped into a scene out of a Beatrix Potter book.
Butterflies danced among lilies. Colorful birds sang their happy songs and flitted from birdhouse to bird feeder.
Honeybees lighted on tall purple and yellow irises. Our friend rushed over to welcome us with hugs.
Ushering us past the bright pink rhododendrons and fragrant roses, she instructed us to sit at an outdoor table and handed us cups of tea and sugar cookies.
Despite the age difference, a deep sense of love, connection, and friendship dwelled.
My dear friend has since gone on to be with the Lord, and though her own earthly life held sadness and tragedy, her heart consistently extended generosity.
This unassuming lady with wrinkled hands and a gentle smile was a role model for me in my teen years.
I watched as she faithfully attended church and always took the time to ask how I was.
She valued me, and I desired to emulate her in my adolescent awkwardness.The Bible teaches many practical ways we can become a positive role model for teens and shows us an example in Jesus Christ.
Stepping Into Mentorship
What can individuals do to become a positive role model for teens? What makes our personality, uniqueness, and even quirks something others admire and mimic?
Parents and guardians often become role models by default. But being a role model for teens isn’t something we often set out to do.
Positive role models develop with time through consistent and intentional growth in our walk with the Lord.
Mentors are a safe place for youth to find rest and catch a glimpse into the future of those a few steps ahead.
The apostle Paul exhorted young Timothy—whom he mentored—of the great value of his mother’s and grandmother’s faith (2 Tm 1:5).
We don’t know much about these two women, but the faithfulness of their lives was evident to those on the outside looking in.
Throughout the pages of Scripture, we find seven practical ways to guide us in becoming positive mentors for the teens in our lives.Positive role models develop with time through consistent and intentional growth in our walk with the Lord.
7 Practical Ways to Become a Role Model for Teens
1. Stay connected by investing in their daily lives.
“God is faithful; you were called by Him into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” – 1 Corinthians 1:9 HCSB
Teens love predictability and routine. They will pull up a favorite song and listen to it on repeat. Particular foods become their go-to menu choice and participating in activities together make them feel connected to others.
Faithfully nurturing a relationship with teens displays the faithfulness of our holy God. We can demonstrate that God loves them and calls them into a relationship (1 Cor 1:9) as we invest in their daily lives.
The assurance someone cares about them directs teens to the truths found in God’s Word.
2. Share the gospel in practical ways.
“All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness.” – 2 Timothy 3:16 HCSB
The teenage years can be full of turmoil and victories.
The gospel is a story full of tragedy and love and resounds with heartache and hope. It weaves together redemption and reconciliation.
By sharing Scriptures that connect to their circumstances, a positive role model for teens points them to the Savior.All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16
3. Actively listen to youth.
“But I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation. My God will hear me.” – Micah 7:7 HCSB
Listening is an important skill to model for teens because they have a lot of outside noise coming at them.
Actively listening and engaging in conversation shows we value their words and models the truth that God hears us in any circumstance (Mi 7:7).
4. Ask questions.
Jesus answered them, “I will also ask you one question, and if you answer it for Me, then I will tell you by what authority I do these things.” – Matthew 21:24 HCSB
As we actively listen to the teens in our life, we can engage in asking questions that lead to reflection and deeper thinking. This allows them to know we care about their well-being and invites growth.
Thought-provoking questions, such as what the next step is or how they are feeling, open lines of communication and demonstrates empathy and valuing each other’s feelings.
Christ often asked questions and used them as a way to share His love and purpose for mankind (Mk 11:29). Through asking and answering questions, one can find God’s purpose and direction.
5. Speak the truth in love.
But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into Him who is the head—Christ.” – Ephesians 4:15 HCSB
As we share the gospel, actively listen, and ask questions, we can speak the truth in love to our teens.
Paul says in his letter to the church of Ephesus that speaking the truth in love allows us “to grow in every way into him who is the head—Christ” (Eph 4:15).
Modeling how to interact and share truth allows teens to see how to be Christlike in difficult conversations.Christ often asked questions and used them as a way to share His love and purpose for mankind.
6. Encourage youth through prayer.
“For this reason also, since the day we heard this, we haven’t stopped praying for you.” – Colossians 1:9a HCSB
One of the greatest ways we can be a positive role model for teens is by helping them know we are praying for them.
Teens are encouraged knowing others are thinking of them.
When we pray with and for them, we show what dependence on God looks like.
Prayer takes the focus off our interactions and points teenagers to a God who can meet all their needs.
7. Cheer teenagers on.
“Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us.” – Hebrews 12:1 HCSB
Cheering for teens encourages them to fight with perseverance and grit. It assures them that God has a purpose for their lives, and we believe His plans will not fail.
Teens can also see how we have run with endurance and had others cheering us on toward eternity.
Teens are beautiful examples of how Christ transforms lives and how God unites the young and old in every generation.
As a positive role model for teens, you will have a front-row seat to experience the incredible work God does in the hearts and lives of passionate and brave youth.
May we uphold our calling to be examples of Christ and mentors who faithfully point the next generation to our Savior.
Laura values time spent with her husband and three teenage children. She is passionate about sharing God’s love with others. As an educator and counselor of kids for over 20 years, Laura believes that real hope is only found in Christ. You will often find her outside enjoying God’s creation, gardening, or reading and writing. Connect with Laura on Instagram.