I really believe that dating is one of the fastest things that can derail the life of a teenager. I'm not against dating by any means, but I am against dating the wrong person and in my 9 years as the leader of our youth ministry, I have unfortunately seen many lives derailed because of poor choices in dating. So, we started a new series Wednesday night at axis called Don't Date Until ...
Wednesday the topic was Don't Date Until You're Willing to Slow Down. Relationships have a tendency to move SOOO fast today. You like her, she likes you and all of the sudden teenagers are moving faster than a NASCAR pit crew, moving, in my opinion way too fast emotionally and physically. I really believe that, especially at this stage of life, dating for a middle or high school student should move slowly. The healthiest relationships for middle or high school students are the ones that progress slowly and in stages. So, I shared 5 things that would help teenagers know "why" to slow down and "how" to slow down.
1) Realize It's OK to Be Single. Genesis 1:18 talks about God creating men and women with a desire to be together ... and that's a good thing. But, there's a difference between a desire for a boyfriend/girlfriend and feeling the pressure to have one. I think teens feel a lot of pressure these days to be dating, but it's totally OK if they aren't. The more a teenager realizes that the less pressure they may feel to move in to a dating relationship.
2) It Probably Won't Last. Two of our wonderful adult volunteers were high school sweethearts. They have a wonderful marriage now and great stories to share. But, they are by far the exception. A high majority of high school relationships will not last beyond high school. If a teenager feels that the relationship they are in is meant to last forever it will often cause them to make some stupid mistakes in an effort to keep the relationship lasting forever. They'll begin to force things ... and if you have to "force" a relationship at that stage of life, it's not the right relationship for you. Remembering that a majority of high school relationships will not last will take the pressure off in dating, keep things balanced, and, I believe, make dating more enjoyable.
3) Think More About God Than Dating. God should receive the best of our attention, but we often focus on a guy or a girl way more than we do our God. I challenged our kids to think about what it would be like if they spent as much time focusing on God and His promises for their life as they did a potential date. Our lives would be dramatically different.
4) Set Standards. Set values and standards and don't compromise. Sometimes I think the only values kids have in dating is a pulse! We shared some fun values for them to set like "If there's drama, they don't meet mama." And, "If they ain't fun, they ain't the one." But, also talked about setting serious standards for anyone that we may go out with ... are they a follower of Jesus? How do they talk? How do they dress?
5) Put Limits on the Amount of Time You Spend with Someone. This is very important, especially at a teenagers stage of life. I asked for a show of hands of kids who had a "best friend" and then all of the sudden their best friend started dating and it was like they dropped off the face of the earth! A majority of kids raised their hands and you could tell it was a serious issue with the kids in our room. I just feel its important to limit the amount of time you spend with someone you're dating (especially in high school) because you're not meant at this stage of life to invest all of your time in to one person. That happens in marriage, but even then you still need a healthy balance of other friendships.
Next Week: Don't Date Until You're Willing to Be a Man.