Teen Talk: "WHY?" - That Is My Question

From adolescent all the way to adult,  human nature is to reason and rationalize.  Well, at least most of the time.  We recognize that everything happens for a reason; the result of an equal and opposite action.  The foundation of science and sects of society is to know not only that something happened, but to understand exactly why.  This word "Why," fuels industry and study, and serves as the key to unlocking the deepest parts of man. 

It's the question that everyone asks, but few genuinely want or even know how to answer.

  As a lover of deduction and logic, in pursuit of a deeper understanding of the way people's brain tick, I find myself asking this question quite a bit!  As a youth pastor I can remember watching countless of my students blatantly disregard a rule or guideline.  Seeking the best, in hope of a unique, positive exception, I would ask, "Why did you do that?"  To which many would respond, "I don't know."  

Depending on your position as a follower or leader you will relate to another common response to this question differently. When given instruction, whether student, child, or employee,  people ask "Why?"  And maybe you've heard or even said, "Because... I said so." 

I can remember my biological mother rationalizing and spiritualizing her vague response with this gem: "If you don't obey me without question, you will never be able to blindly obey God when he gives you instruction that doesn't make sense in the moment."  Within myself...and maybe a few times audibly I would reply, "Well God knows everything....you don't."  Though she was on the right track, she failed to recognize her opportunity for growth. - If you are a teen who struggles in search of the ever allusive "why"  or a leader who is tired of being asked,  let's look at some principles about the question "why."

Living in the moment is a philosophy ever before our snapchat society's face.  When someone asks "why" it solicits both pause and thoughtful consideration of not only the action, but what lead to it.  It holds us accountable, causing us to live for an extended  time in more than a moment, but the motive and mindset that led to that moment of action.  "Why" slows us down from rapid movement but allows us to build momentum in a series of intentional moments. 

If you want to distinguish a leader from a dictator, study their response to this intense question.  A dictator hates to be asked "Why" because an explanation might open their line of reasoning up for discussion.  Dictators view this question as opposition where leaders view "why" as an opportunity. A good leader always does their best to preempt this question by accompanying instruction with relevant information. When this is done, "Why's" can be recognized as a sign of an inattentive follower or an opportunity to engage followers in the process.  Each time a follower is engaged in the process their discernment and leadership abilities are enhanced.  

"Why" can serve as an opportunity for research or rebellion.  It's all about what you do with the answer.  It is not a sin to question the instruction of authority so long as it is done properly and with intent to rationalize and solidify loyalty to a cause.  You can ask God "Why" all day long so long as you are willing to abide by his answer.  Many ask their "why's" in an attempt to fuel their rebellion.  Why do you ask why?

Are you developing relationships with those that follow you?  Do people feel the freedom to ask "why?"  Your response to this question is a sure-fire why to determine whether you are a compassionate confidant, or an over-confident commander.  Allowing that freedom establishes strong relationships.  Each answered "why" generates compound interest in the market of trust that yields a future return of unquestioned authority. 

Dear follower, please recognize that "why" is the currency that can easily purchase contempt when spent unwisely.  Over-spending bankrupts future opportunity and  return. Be careful to evaluate "why" you ask "why."  Note that "why's" are not always acceptable currency depending on which type of leader you serve.  Your ability to spend it, and their ability to accept it will undoubtedly reflect the future of your relationship. 

Teen Talk: 3 Ways To Help Your Parents Understand

Over the next couple weeks we are going to dive into a family series of sorts.  We are going to "get real" and address some of the recurring issues that do not seem to be dissipating with time. By dissecting the problems and defining the participants we will have an opportunity to correct our course for growth as children, parents, pastors, and leaders.  You won't want to miss a segment in this series.

It is so commonly overused it is more than cliché at this point..., it's just crazy.  I can remember hearing it used in my pre-teen years and thinking to myself, "I will never say that."  But then,  something truly does shift with time, and before long these words glided across my lips as if they were a standard rehearsed response.  "My parents just don't understand me."

You've heard it right?  You have probably even said it.  No matter how young or old you are,  the thought that your situation surpassed your parent's understanding has definitely crossed your mind at least once.  Well, friend,  I have good news and bad news.  The good news is that YOU'RE RIGHT!  Your parents do not have an earthly idea what you are going through, and it is absolutely impossible for them to relate to at this point.

As culture continually evolves, everything changes.  While sin remains sin, the access and advertisement of the same is drastically more enhanced.  Things once regarded as distant anomalies are now slapped in the face of students via media and government issued education.  If you are parenting a teenager right now you can remember back to a day without social media, cell-phone access, and drug scares.  Call to memory the age at which topics such as homosexuality become a reality for you and contrast that to the conscience-appeasing, sin-driven programming our juveniles ingest.  This is a crazy world, and it is much different than the generation that is raising it now.  And if everything stays the same,  the phrase "my parents just don't understand" will continue to be true.

Ready for the bad news?  If you have ever spoken that phrase, the reality is: That's your fault.

To "understand" is to interpret, grasp, or be thoroughly familiar with.   This state of being or regard for a situation from which one's self is removed can only be attained as information is firmly communicated.  It's like this...imagine driving around that battery operated car your parents got you when you were 8, then showing up at the DMV and expecting to ace the driving test.  Sure, the basics are very similar, the application is altogether different.  How do we learn to drive?  We watch.  We listen. We attend driver's education classes.  The facts are communicated, then rudimentary knowledge is applied on a higher level.

Maybe a poor illustration,  but the point is that if you truly want your parents to understand your problem, you will have to work on the following:

1.  Take Time
Whether your parents are unapproachable, or you are guilty of shutting them out, one thing is for sure;  You are going to have to be the one to talk.  What have you been feeling?  Why?  What things has God been working on in your life?  Where do you struggle?  What makes you happy?  Ultimately, what makes you, you?  Yes, some of these things are extremely personal; but imagine your parent's surprise when you communicate without being interrogated.  If you want to be asked less questions, preemptively take the time to give the answers.

2.  Make Time
Social Media has provided an outlet for both over and under-communication.  People toss out the personal details of their life over the internet like it's everyone's business,  yet retreat into a hermitage of insecurity in real-life encounters.  Rather than subliminally message your parents via Facebook or the twitter/instagram account they don't have,  take those thoughts and frustrations to them directly.  When something good happens,  share that moment in the moment with those you love FIRST.  And when faced with a frustration, handle it responsibly by communicating calmly with the offender.  Don't replace your family with Facebook. Make communication a priority.

3.  Save Time
You cannot claim the role of a victim when you have not allowed your parents the opportunity to understand.  How could they?  It's a vicious cycle of they ask questions > you get mad > they don't ask > you don't tell > they attempt to speak into your life > you get frustrated because they don't have all the relevant information > "you just don't understand me" > so they start asking questions again....  It is so easy to slip back into this cycle with the busyness of life. This relationship you are making will take time to create and keep.  Yet, in the long run saves the time most family units spend repairing damaged relationships.