A note from Mary Margaret West: I love Leslie’s heart for teenage girls. She serves as a volunteer leader in her church, and has been so faithful to encourage and build up the next generation. Today’s post hits right at the heart!
I’ve been working with high school girls at my church for over 15 years now, and there’s no telling how many times I’ve said the word need to them: “You need to tell her you’re sorry.” “You need to respect your parents.” “You don’t need to date him.” “You need to spend time with Jesus every single morning.”
Because, honestly, THEY DO! Teenage girls don’t always know what they NEED, and it’s our job to point them in the right direction, right? Right.
Or so I thought.
Then I got a copy of Beth Moore’s book Audacious. As I read the chapter entitled, “Need is Not Enough” I felt my chin hit the floor:
In the ring between competitors for the heavyweight human motivator, want beats need to a bloody pulp…When push comes to shove, our driving force will be desire or this will turn out to be just another phase we went through for a week or two. Discipline won’t do this for us. Discipline can make us more Christlike but it cannot make us love Christ more. We will never love Him just because we need to. We will only love Him audaciously because we want to. (page 92)
It made me think of the things I did because I needed: a new exercise regimen, eating/not eating particular foods, backing off of coffee (hahahaha!), an efficient approach to cleaning my house, meal planning, etc. I did these things because I thought I needed to, not because I wanted to. And NOT ONE OF THEM turned into a lasting habit.
But time with Jesus, now, THAT WAS DIFFERENT. Granted, I started because I was a Christian and I knew I needed to spend time with Him every day. But once I started in earnest, I wanted to do it. I rearranged my schedule to have thirty minutes a day to study His Word.
I also wanted—not just needed–to point my children to the Lord. We started sitting together on the couch every single day, reading and discussing His Word. That, too, has lasted because I truly WANT it.
The things we need to do come from an external pressure; our wants come from inside. And our wants give us the fuel to stick with it.
There’s a problem, though: my most common wants are not God-focused. They’re selfish and sinful. If I’m completely honest right now, what I want is more sleep, someone to do the dishes for me, and for my kids to stop arguing. I don’t always want the things Jesus would have me want; I want the things that make me happy, stress-free, and at my best.
What I need, then, is to want what Jesus wants. Developing a Jesus-focused want comes from allowing Him to fill me with His desires and passions. This means I must acknowledge my own lack of Jesus-focused wants and ask Him to change me.
What do I know Jesus wants for me?
- I know He wants me to thank Him for everything.
- He wants me to praise, worship, and honor Him.
- He wants me to love others, whether they are good or bad, clean or dirty, inside or outside of my tribe.
- He wants me to give Him glory in my words, my actions, and my relationships.
- He wants me to know Him through the Bible, to walk in obedience, and to believe who He is and what He does.
I want what Jesus wants for me, so I ask Him to change my wants. And guess what? He does. And I tell my girls about it.
They don’t need me to sit up in my ivory tower of adulthood and tell them how they need to do a million things; they need to hear me share how I seek the wants of Jesus. How I ask Him to fill me with His wants. And to share how He is faithful to give me the strength to believe and obey and WANT Him.
The next time you get together with your girls, consider this idea: Ask, “What does Jesus want for us?” As a group, come up with a pretty good list. (Feel free to start with my ideas above.) Help them see where their own wants differ from Jesus’ wants and show them how to pray for new wants, submit to Jesus’ plan, and walk in the knowledge that He is love and He is best.
It’s not just enough for my girls to know they need Jesus; I want them to want Him, too.