I was speaking at MCCA today, and the main topic of my “talk” was that we need to be disciplined in our spiritual life in order to become who God wants us to be. I was thinking on the way there that being a teenager is mostly going from having discipline imposed on you to coming to a point in your life where you can discipline yourself.
I think that we have failed in youth ministry many times because we have not allowed them to grow into this auto-discipline (spiritually) that is necessary. We have spoon-fed answers to people instead of sharing with them how to nourish themselves. We have continued to teach what to think to people who need to understand how to think for themselves. We have done their laundry for them and cooked them their meals (spiritually speaking). Then, when they go off to college, they don’t know how to do those things for themselves and walk around starving and wearing in dirty clothes.
Maybe we should focus more on teaching them how to become self-disciplined and not impose as much discipline on them. Obviously, this has a lot to do with their level of maturity, but it has to take place sometime. We will not always be there.