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June 7, 2022 10:00 pm
"What difference can I make?" Fuller Youth Institute's Brad Griffin helps you answer teens' big questions and locate purpose they crave.
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We think one of the best Jesus entered answers when it relates to this question of what difference can I make or how will my life matter, why am I here that purpose. Question is, is the idea of story and being caught up in God story so miser doesn't live you know in a vacuum. My story isn't just about even our family story is not just about working to build a family legacy. Your you need to do this or that because you're part of this family or any of that are story matters because were common story of God and what God is done because doing now what I will do you know this is his story and we had to be part of it. We get to have our like chapter in the book but the book is an about us. Fundamentally, God welcome to family life today where we want to help you pursue relationships that matter most time and Wilson and Dave Wilson and you can find us if we live today.com or on our family life, family life today. I think I know the answer to this question, but you remember the first time.
You wondered why you are here. Purpose. Yes, Thursday, or this because we did tell me this 40 some years ago.
In our first year marriage.
I was sort of shocked. I was in the second grade and I was in bad end in mind.
You carry talking that this because of sexual abuse in my past I would ask deep questions like why is this happening. I would ask what's wrong with me.
Who am I let the big question that I would ask is why am I here and I would ask that continually. Why am I on this earth is their purpose to it because I had a great family, but that abuse was outside the family and I just felt like something must be wrong with me and we didn't have much God in our family we can talk about it much, but I thought there purpose to my life. Those are big questions for a little eight-year-old girl yeah I mean that's what I was shocked. I don't remember thinking that so I was in college.
It's funny because I was with my parents when they were like 84 I'm on this trip with them and I said to my dad. He's 84.
Do you remember the first time you asked the question why am I here he goes. I've never actually thought that till this very moment never that you know her dad Dick became sort of. My dad exited dead. He's my got a guy I really like your 84 years old. He had never met really never thought about someone. Tell me second grade.
I like whilst this woman is deep well there is a lot of pain yeah yeah and it's interesting that that was behind why are we asking this question arising this question because were talking about the three big questions teenagers asking where Brad Griffin back in the studio with us today. Who's a parent but also as study teens and knows what these questions are so bread welcome back family of today so great to be here. I really had a great conversation with you about the book that you wrote what Carol Powell called the three big questions that change every teenager making the most of your conversations and connections and obviously this is important for all of us, but especially for us as parents. I'm going to say to our listeners.
If you have teenagers get this book. Many pre-teenagers get this book you can be fascinated. We couldn't put it down. It's so helpful and encouraging to guide us and helping tell our listeners a little bit about what you do. I know you're at the Fuller youth Institute. What is that how does it work what you do there.
Our mission is equipping parents and leaders to really surround young people to support. We talk about helping young people change the world and in the way that that happens is that they have adults in their lives who are with them really with them and on their team and we do that through research and I just love I'm a research nerd and so I love listening research is just a fancy way of saying listen to people and tell stories about it and so that's that's what we do and we we really want to equip people to do what they want to do which be better parents. You know me better leaders. We serve a lot of youth ministry leaders because we focus in on on the adolescent years what it was. Interesting evening in your book in chapter 1, you say the following questions were by far the most common questions that emerge from the interview survey I want to just hit some of these because every parent I would be meaning in like what are our teens and by the way, these were not the three biggies righties are like there in these but you got a sort of filter through these to get to okay the really asking these three there asking how do I manage anxiety and stress better technology. We don't have questions. We kinda got it three generation is diverse.
They have questions about navigating racial pain questions handling gender identity, sexual orientation, questions about sexuality. Questions about safety is about drugs, alcohol they pain and so these are the all these big questions, but then you and Karen kinda took it down to the big three because underneath the surface questions you're saying now, a really come down to where you name those again.
Three yeah the big question of identity. Who am I the question of belonging.
Where do I fit in. The big question of purpose. What difference can I make a purposeful bit, but real quick. I know, and in the book we talk about this when they ask who am I you say the better answer is you are enough in Jesus. Yes yeah that's where we sort of landed that we did. There is a answers and you know I'm younger, my friends, I am. I am enough in Christ, yes, and then with belonging others that better answer that Jesus entered answer of of with. I belong with God, I belong with God's people the sense that we can provide the presence of God through other people and that that they know they're not alone. You know enough, the heart of belonging and you know you're not alone and with purpose to go that direction. It may actually helpful first to talk about the ways that young people are talking about purpose themselves that Jesus entered answer so what we heard and we spent over 100 hours in in-depth interviews just listening to teenagers talk and we pair that with survey data and we looked at other research that's out there on transient on how how this works and you know what we heard was a couple of of kinda dominant answers. One of them was around following a script that I've been given a lot of scripts about how I'm supposed to know why my life matters why I'm here. What kind of purpose I have in the world and those scripts are sometimes they have a lot of God language around them.
For kids who grew up in the church and in church families. So for example there's actually pressure around finding God's will so you know, we heard a remember this one teenager named Carrie saying well I want to know what God's will is for my life but I'm afraid I meant to get it wrong and you know the freedom and to go to college and study this thing and then it it's good to be the wrong thing and I have wasted you know this time and money and it was almost a sense of there are such high expectations for me that to know God's will and to get it right that if I get it wrong him to be disappointing. The people around me and I want to be just putting God and in the parents intent, but the kids are pressure from the parents.
Maybe they're dreaming big for their children right right you doing right saying yeah, absolutely. And sometimes the way we use God language, you know, we don't mean for it to come across as pressure, but but it does and sometimes it's honestly because we don't tell enough stories of failure and of stories of our own journey of discovery.
We don't tell enough stories of you know, not figuring it all out ourselves right away. The way we sort of narrate what that looks like to find God's will or God's plan for your life. Sometimes that sounds like there's not room for mistakes so there's not room for discovery and that's not actually what what we mean to mean that all another narrative we heard was about helping you know I feel like my life matters if I'm helping someone and helping is a really good thing and there's all kinds of positive research correlations with helping in and we could talk all day about how great that is there sort of shadow side to the resort of the sense of I only matter if I can make somebody happy or I only matter if I do all these things that you know.
Again, people expect me to do in some kids cases it's there's a lot of expectations run helping in the home taking care of siblings or with one young man. We talked to his dad is chronically ill and part of this kids daily work as a teenager is taking care of his dad.
There's a lot of about that. That's beautiful and that is really mature and just what it means to be family. And then there's a part of it to that. It's hard for him to see past kinda being stuck in this family situation to what else his purpose might look like in life because right now is just up his family survive. She got whole span there while thinking of kids that maybe their parents have gone through divorce and now they're in a blended family situation, so there really asking where do I fit in. And maybe the families are very different and how they're answering those questions to did you get any of that in the survey of kids kind of trying to find that balance and identity.
Yeah that situation. Yeah, divorce and family separation and blended families.
They raise all kinds of questions around the three questions in this. Who am I and whom I hear you lie there you know if you're juggling between two homes where do I fit what is that look like, and on the purpose front, you know it's interesting to because parents can have very different versions of who they think you should be and different perspectives on your career path and you know how to how to like lean into those things. It's a lot to navigate what we deftly heard from kids in those situations who felt pulled you know sometimes what it does is is you have to you hold a lot yourself. Yeah is as a kid as a teenager because you are making the decision about how to present you know in these and how to answer and how to navigate and honestly sometimes kids end up seeing part of their purpose of caring for their parents. This at this is not only about divorce, but sometimes kids feel like their parents are emotionally dependent on them. So I've got to make you know mom or dad happy while here here's what I'm thinking you know I was in a blended family and I don't know about you two so I want to know if your teenage years were like mine. I'm just sit here thinking I was so selfish all I cared about was a teen was making me happy. I didn't think about making a difference. I really didn't.
I'm thinking is the teenaged today is are they less selfish than than we were because I really didn't think I mean and think about her purpose in life and second grade I didn't care I was like I want to play football. I want to date this girl I want to get scholarship. I want to make money.
I don't think I guess I just your Mike my immaturity of my lack of I didn't think about any that I was just like was today. Who's going to love me today how I can be successful today at my high school. Whatever is the team today different.
I get on a dinner but is like me but they do wrestle yeah we raised him yeah it's a different world and their stressors and anxiety that they carry that I think is unique to their generation.
That makes them ask these who am I where do I fit in my right as I was having yeah couple responses so adolescence, alleging say I'm very yeah, that's what you want to say first thought is, while Dave just told me you know about you is that your personality aside your self absorption another five mature or we can we can explore your purpose in a little bit. So first adolescence very much is a phase that is self-centered and developmentally. The focus turns in word every teenager. In a lot of ways feels like they're on a stage down and so of course they're going to need performance focus because you know or feel like everybody staring at me. That's really common experience in adolescence so we also have a research a colleague who says you know what I was 15 I just want to play video games all day like I think about these things that you and there certainly are kids who experience a wide range of motivation also think we as a society we put so much into entertainment and distraction and numbing. We actually provide a lot of ways for teenagers to numb themselves from looking right at the big questions and so you do for that kid who just wants to play video games all day are that kid who isn't really thinking about why my here was my meaning in life. Like the big existential side of that some of that is because we've given them so many ways to be distracted from what matters and in some ways it is an escape. I think about my experience that was an escape. You were gaping broken family alcoholic parents, adultery, blended family.
I did know where I fit. I felt lost I felt left and I found my identity being an athlete. I found my identity being popular me is just an escape. I was searching I think as parents we need to watch our kids and see those symptoms are they looking for something that we know they're asking this question. By the way they're behaving yeah let me ask you the questions interview process that you went through with all of these teens where they church kids. They were all nominated by ministry leaders said they were connected with churches, some of them were more active than others. Yes, so some that neared it was there so I got the best of the best Obama youth bathroom.
I can send you since some what we said don't give us the reason I'm asking is because all the things you're talking about what kids feel. I think I put that on our kids. You need to be serving because that's what we do we give our lives away for Jesus.
Yes, you want to know who you are. This is all Jesus has made you for a purpose and I'm hearing all the things that I've said to them over the years and I'm thinking, I think I put pressure on them and now our adult son, some of them have come back and said when he said all those great things about me. I felt like you were sleeping pressure on my back on that person. And deep down I felt like I was a fraud because I had to live up to all these expectations I need to serve. I need to live Jesus and be the youth group, not realizing my heart with good you can find life there and I wish that I would've kind of just bunked down into their world, like I did that I asked him a lot of questions that I didn't realize I was putting a lot of pressure on parents or relating to, you relate to your heart so good you're listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Brad Griffin on family life today will hear his answer in just a minute.
The first to send you a copy of Brad's book 3 big questions that change every teenager it's our gift to you when you partner with us and make a gift of any amount this week to support the work of family life today. As you may know were listener supported. So blessed my family life today. We love you to consider paying it forward you partner with us in family life today.com what you could call with your donation at 800-3583 29. You can give a one-time gift or become a family life partner with the recurring monthly gift. Again the number is 800 F as in family L as in life and in the word today.
Right now, back to Brad and the pressure parents can inadvertently put on their children you a lot of us to. We don't want our kids to be entitled. We don't see we hear these narratives I know about young people and we are thinking not my kids you know my kids are no hard work. My kids are kinda no responsibility. There are no good things absolutely and there's a few pieces to that. I think we can relieve the pressure by so now when we get to this Jesus entered answer purpose. We think one of the best Jesus entered answers when it relates to this question of what difference can I make or how will my life matter why my here that purpose. Question is, is the idea of story and being caught up in God's story, so Meiser doesn't live you know in a vacuum.
My story isn't just about even our family story is not just about working to build a family legacy. Your you need to do this or that because you're part of this family or any of that are story matters because were caught up in the story of God and what God is done what God is doing now what I will do you know this is his story and we had to be part of it.
We get to have our like chapter in the book but the book is about us fundamentally about God and in some ways that can relieve pressure. You know, back to the God's will or God's plan for your life situation. I think we can talk to our kids about that in a way that is it.
So pressure later and it's not like you need to know God's will so that you don't make the wrong decision about college or whatever or whether to take this job or that job or you know it's God is with you, like God's put you in a story and it's going to be a beautiful and complicated story to be painful parts of the story there's going to be amazing, joyful parts of the story is your parent if I could I would make sure that you never ever experienced loss or pain or anything uncomfortable because I don't want you to go through it and that's how life works. That's not how you grow in this story we don't know what it's good to turn out to be, but it's God's God with you and it and you will never be alone. You will never be alone. That's one of the back to bedtime prayers. Yeah, that's one of the prayers.
I pray over my teenage kids every night, is that they would each know that they're not alone, that God is with them and I think that's about identity, belonging and purpose knowing that the presence of God goes with us when we sleep when we wake we stumble through our day. When we fall down and embarrassingly you know in middle school in front of everybody ends and rhubarb peasants gray party and we feel so embarrassed and humiliated and you know I want my kids to know in that moment that they're not alone that comes with and that can happen when their toddlers when their babies saying we have a grandson that Steve and I remember just talking and sang amazing years you eat you all the time. There's never time he doesn't see or hear you, and even our six-year-old and seven-year-old grandkids asking this question. Wonder what he has for you.
You not painting a picture that this is what it is that you're kind of creating the question. I wonder when it will look like, and then I remember even telling your kids. I seen this thing you know the gifts and their strengths, their passion like cool and I think to do if they get older of even asking them questions about that is you are saying Brad like what are you passionate about right now anything just posing the question. I wonder how God will use that or if he'll use that in some way EA could bespeak posing the question. I think it's good for us as parents. Remember that God's got her kids because even as as we discussed over the last couple days. These three questions identity belonging purpose.
I think we can get so fearful his parents. You know that you know the anxiety and the stress that our our teenager feeling that we forget there is a God, that's got them then in you were older now and have grandkids and have adult sons and we can look back and go you know all the stress we felt and we get it. It's normal it's it's is part of being a mom or dad you look back now, don't you, and you go God was there. Yeah, God had a purpose for them.
They found that again when I sent her perfect nose and every kid turns out that way but at the end of the day you can lay your head on the pillow at night and rest and go you know what is stress is I am as a parent and even watching my kids be stresses teenagers. There's a guy that sees them. Those them loves them, sees us, loves us is with us and will take them to the right answer to these three big questions that are still the questions were answering ourselves, but we can trust God at the end of the day and our mistakes and their mistakes are not going to stop God. Being present and being active in their lives that Steven and Wilson with Brad Griffin on family life today.
Brad is written a book with Carol Powell called three big questions that change every teenager making the most of your conversations and connections you can get firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 800-358-6329. That's 800 F as in family L as in life and in the word today.
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