Dealing with Teenage Drama Gospel-Centeredly

Three things are inevitable for every youth pastor: paying taxes, dying, and dealing with teenage drama. I’ve definitely been through my fair share of the drama. I’ve seen teenagers quit youth ministries, asked to leave youth ministries, small groups implode, friendships shattered, families severed, and teenagers quit church altogether…over drama.

We just finished an overview of the book of 1 Corinthians where Paul walked the church of Corinth through the right way of repenting of their sin, overcoming their struggles, and settling their drama through the gospel. Its an incredible book of how to handle all areas of life by applying the gospel! So, this morning in our 1 Corinthians wrap-up before small groups, I walked our teens how to apply the gospel to…teenage drama! Here’s what we looked at:

1. Be like Jesus! Our natural, sinful tendency is to be like the world…the culture surrounding us. When drama strikes, the world flares up, bows up, and speaks up. They attack, defend, and fight dirty. But we aren’t called to be like the culture, we are called to be like Jesus. “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Phil 1:27). When we are called to the gospel, we are called to become like Jesus and live all of life for Him. So these next few points are how to apply the gospel to teenage drama by living like and for Jesus.

2. Don’t defend yourself. That’s right…don’t feel like you always have to defend yourself. Here’s part of the beauty of the gospel that we rarely talk about. Jesus perfectly and flawlessly obeyed all of God’s commands while living on earth. Therefore, His Father was fully pleased with Him. When we are saved, we are united into Jesus. Therefore, through Jesus, God is fully pleased and satisfied with us. He fully accepts us based on Jesus’ performance. Our personal identity is now in Jesus alone. So…we don’t have to care what others think about us because we know who we truly are in Jesus! Most of the time in teenage drama situations, trying to defend, prove, or justify yourself just makes things worse. I’m not saying that its always wrong to defend yourself, I’m just saying…don’t always feel like you have to because ultimately your identity and acceptance is found in Jesus and not yourself! “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in His mouth. When He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but continued entrusting Himself to Him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:22-23). Be like Jesus!

3. Own your sin! In every situation we have some sin mixed in. We are sinners, and even when we are the ones being victimized…we still handle things wrong, say things wrong, or have wrong motives. I once heard it said that if you and someone else have a gun pointing at each other…the best way to get them to drop their guy is by dropping yours first. Dropping your gun drops their threat level. The same is true in drama. If you want the drama to stop, the best way is to own up to your own sin, confess it to them, apologize, repent, and do right. Yes…even if you’re the victim! Being the victim never excuses our gossip, lies, backbiting, and mean spirit. “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). So how do we be like Jesus in this if He never sinned and never had to confess? This is actually through the power of His death for sin! Because Jesus died for our sin and we have been forgiven through Him, we can have the freedom to own up to our own sin and admit it because He has already dealt with it. Jesus died for our sin so that we could confess, repent, and be reconciled!

4. Love your enemies! Jesus didn’t love His enemies by just forgiving them, but He went all the way to His own death for them. The Pharisees, Priests, and Roman Guards weren’t Jesus’ only enemies. The enemies He died for includes you and me (Romans 5:10). Because Jesus rose from the dead, that gives us power for obedience! “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil” (Luke 6:35). As we are living like and for Jesus out of the power of His resurrection, we should love our enemies like Jesus…until they are our friends (John 15:12-15). We should do everything possible to reconcile the relationship by pursuing them with love. So when teenage drama strikes, I believe that you should confess and repent of your own sin to them, pray for them, and do good toward them. Loving your enemies does not mean keeping them your enemy. They should be treated like a friend even when they treat you like your enemy. In other words, love your enemy until they are your friend again.

5. Team up together! I’m thinking here about Christians who have broken friendships, who aren’t talking, and who are “done” with each other. They need to confess, repent, love each other, and team back up together for the mission of the gospel! Listen, as long as we’re fighting against each other we can’t fight for each other. When we are fighting for each other then we can team back up together and advance the gospel together for Jesus! Fight the drama. Apply the gospel. Be like Jesus. What are your thoughts?

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