It’s never been more important to teach teenagers about wisdom than now.
In the age of TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, and numerous other social platforms, all of us have access to hours and hours of content at our fingertips daily. As we scroll, our eyes feast upon unlimited photos and videos sharing advice, entertainment, opinions, and more. Even as adults we have to admit that using wisdom and discernment while navigating social media is incredibly challenging. How much more challenging must it be for our younger brothers and sisters in Christ!
Here in 2020, the stakes are high and it’s our job as mentors, parents, and girls ministry leaders to make sure we talk to the teenage girls in our lives about wisdom, particularly when it comes to their online presence. It’s important for us to pass down the wisdom Paul shared with the church in his letter to the Corinthians: just because we can, doesn’t always mean we should! “Everything is permissible for me,” but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me,” but I will not be mastered by anything.” (1 Cor. 6:12). Friends, we cannot allow ourselves or our younger sisters in Christ to be mastered by social media!
So, how do we teach our girls to exercise wisdom?
- First, we have to look at where true wisdom comes from. James 1:5 says this, “Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God—who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly—and it will be given to him.” Wisdom comes from God and He gives it freely whenever we ask! We have to remind our girls (and often ourselves) that wisdom doesn’t come from the advice we find online, it comes from God Himself. That means if we want to gain wisdom, we have to spend more time drinking from the well of His Word and less time feasting on the things of the world.
- We have to teach our girls the difference between godly wisdom and worldly wisdom. Later in James we read this about God’s wisdom versus worldly wisdom:
“But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your heart, don’t boast and deny the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from above but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there is disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without pretense.” (Jas. 3:14-17).
Wisdom from above is altogether different than the wisdom this world has to offer. TikTok stars, influencers, and even friends can offer advice but if it doesn’t align with the Word of God then it’s worldly and dangerous to us as believers! That means the best way to teach our girls to discern the difference between the wisdom from above and the wisdom of the world is to point them to the Word of God. Saturating our minds in Truth will help us discern what is from above and what is earthly.
In order to instill this in the teenage girls in your life, have conversations with them about common worldly wisdom and how it differs from Scripture. Here are a few examples:
Popular worldly wisdom:
- Do what makes you happy.
- Create the life you want.
- Love yourself first.
- Follow your heart.
All of this advice is easy to find from influencers, TikTok stars, Disney movies, and more. However, as good as it may sound at first, it contradicts the Truth we find in Scripture!
Truth from God’s Word:
- Offer yourself as a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1).
- Seek first the Kingdom of God (Matt. 6:33).
- Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength (Luke 10:27).
- Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Christ (Luke 9:23).
- Finally, we have to give them the opportunity to use wisdom. This last step may be the hardest and ironically requires significant wisdom and discernment on our part as adults.
While it’s imperative for adults (particularly parents and guardians) to monitor their student’s online activity, it’s not enough to simply restrict them from using it. We have a responsibility to teach teenagers how to use the internet appropriately as well! It’s important to show teenagers how to use social media with discernment so that when the day comes that they find themselves unrestricted, they know how to make wise choices.
Give your teenager an opportunity to practice wisdom when it comes to social media by asking questions like these:
- Do you ever find yourself discouraged or anxious after spending time on social media? What steps can you take to avoid this?
- How much time do you think it’s appropriate to spend on social media each day? How does that compare to time spent with your family or reading your Bible?
- Are you ever tempted to watch videos or look at photos that you know are inappropriate on social media? How do you fight this temptation when it happens?
These are just a few examples of questions you can ask to get girls to start thinking about applying wisdom to social media. Keeping an open dialogue about these issues is crucial as you give girls opportunities to practice wisdom when it comes to their time on social media.
Ultimately, one of the best ways we can teach the teenage girls in our life to exercise wisdom when it comes to social media is to model it for them. Talk to the teenage girls in your life about the boundaries you have for yourself when it comes to the way you use social media. Share about the temptations and the pitfalls you have experienced and apply godly wisdom to each situation. Talk to them about the limitations you give yourself when it comes to taking time away from the online world and making sure you spend more time in the Word than in the world!
Finally, don’t be afraid to challenge the teenage girls in your life to change the way they use platforms like TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram. If you learn that a girl is struggling with purity, challenge her to delete the app and remove temptation. If you see a girl struggling with comparison and anxiety, challenge her to evaluate where that’s coming from and determine what part social media is playing in her struggles. Wisdom may often seem like a mysterious concept, but in many cases it’s straightforward.
Let’s tune our ears and the ears of those following us to hear the Voice of wisdom from above louder than anything this world has to say!
Taylor Cage is a Nashville native, currently living in Oklahoma City with her husband, Baron, who serves as a student pastor at Trinity Baptist Church. After college, she spent three years as a Girls Minister and she’s passionate about building gospel-centered community among women of all ages. Taylor is the Social Media Coordinator for Well-Watered Women and a regular contributor for the LifeWay Girls blog. Most days you can find her writing about God’s Word with a cup of coffee in hand or chasing around her Goldendoodle, Posie. Connect with Taylor: Instagram