I bet you young people sometimes have problems to solve and decisions to make. When you want good advice, who do you call, email, or go see? Who has God given you to help you? Don’t answer out loud . . . just think your answers.

Do you have any habits you need to break? Maybe there is a sin you’ve gotten good at. This is not good! What about things you don’t do that you know you should? Do you have thoughts you shouldn’t have? Desires that are not pleasing to God? What does God want you to change? Who can help you? Keep thinking.Let me give you an example. When I was in the bush country of Senegal, West Africa, I met a woman who was a new Christian. Ndeba’s home was like a small shed. To me, her life appeared difficult. Therefore, when I told her, through an interpreter, that I would like to pray for her I thought she’d ask me to pray that God would give her money or things to make her life easier.I was deeply humbled when Ndeba asked me to pray that she would walk rightly with Jesus. My eyes instantly teared up as I recognized that her priorities were right and mine were wrong. Her second request was that God would protect her so I was wrong again. She continued by asking me to pray that her faith in God would grow. I knew I was in the presence of a wise woman and I was humbled convicted.
Ndeba models priorities for me. When I examine my life and make important decisions, I find myself thinking of Ndeba. I ask, “How would she respond to this situation?” “Would she prioritize the same things I am?” “Would she be worried about this?” I don’t know her well and she may not remember me, but she is helping me think more rightly and I will not forget her.

What about you? Is there anything you need to learn? Would a role model help? Or, who can help you stop doing what you know deep down you shouldn’t be doing? Keep thinking.

Whose voices do you hear when you’re faced with making tough decisions? It’s possible you’ve never met these people and/or they might already be dead. My grandpa died over 10 years ago, but I still think about him often. He was a great man. He was wise and always more concerned for others than himself. When I have decisions to make, I sometimes ask myself what my grandpa might have done in a similar situation. Thinking about what he might say about my thoughts and feelings helps me do things right. Whose voices do you hear?

If you invited five or six people over to advise you, who would you invite? Who are the people God has given you who can help you be the person He wants you to be? Remember, they can be dead or alive and it’s possible that you’ve never met them. It’s also possible they’re related to you or your best friends. Please make your list.

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This is one of my favorite activities to do with children and teens (and adults). It can help them discover and then pay better attention to their role models and wisdom sharers. We have a tendency to become like those we spend time with and turn to. This is even more pronounced for children. Therefore, a key to acting wisely and growing spiritually is to intentionally choose who we spend time with and who we give a voice to. This activity can help.Also, in order for children to change, they must know what they need to change. Or, as some children say, they must know who they want to change into. This hopeful exercise can help them identify the issues.After everyone has had enough time to think of and list five or six people, I invite several to share using questions like these:  Did you list anyone in this room? Why? Parents? Other relatives? Friends? Teachers? Someone who is dead? Authors or others you’ve never met? When I bring up the danger of listing only those who are dead or who we’ve never met, nervous laughter is the typical response. Some young people may need to courageously begin some accountability relationships with people they can really rub shoulders with.

If no one brings it up, I ask who listed their pastor. This always leads to an excellent discussion. Then, I ask how many listed God, Jesus, and/or the Holy Spirit. Those who did, respond enthusiastically. Christians who didn’t, immediately recognize they should have. (I begin by limiting them to only five or six people so they list their advisors and not just their friends, but now they can expand their list by adding these.)

Listening for God’s voice and searching His Word when we have decisions to make, problems to solve, and changes to implement indicates growing maturity. I praise God for the young people who have already learned that and for every adult who has helped them.

When children and teens also choose to listen to Old Testament and New Testament heroes, I’m deeply encouraged. For example, the spiritual maturity of a group of middle school and high school girls was obvious when they included the following heroes, without any hint from me that they should:  Daniel, David, Esther, Sarah, Ruth, Paul, Job, Mary (the mother of Jesus), Mary (who sat at the feet of Jesus), and Caleb. Their in-depth reasons for choosing them were humbling.

What kind of a person do you need to be so children and teens will think of you in the context of this exercise and willingly list you with confidence?