Too Old to Connect with Teens?

Recently, I sat riveted under the rich teaching of Pastor Johnny Hunt. And I wasn’t the only one. This year, Pastor Hunt will be sixty, but that didn’t keep him from completely capturing the attention of 6,500 teenagers whose average age was probably fifteen!

His graying hair, lack of vocabulary from UrbanDictionary.com, and well-pressed shirt were no barrier to the students who feasted on the Word of God that day. His power was not in relating to them, but was wholly in the Word.

My husband, Bob, and I were both amazed at the spiritual weight of his teaching on the obviously spiritually hungry teens. There was an authority in what he spoke as compared to the other speakers (ahem, myself included!), even though his delivery was simple and humble. In terms of both years and wisdom, Pastor Johnny Hunt passed us all up.

Back in the green room, my husband had the good fortune to spend a few moments gleaning from this great man. When Bob commented on how grateful he was that Pastor Hunt took time to come minister to teenagers, Pastor Hunt said something to this effect:

“These students don’t need dumbed-down teaching from someone just a few years ahead of them. They need mature food from older teachers so they will rise up to the expectation of eating the meat of the Word.”

What a balm those words were to my heart. I’ve been struggling with the fear that I’m going to age-out of teaching teenage girls. Ever since I’ve needed reading glasses, don’t look that great in a t-shirt, and can’t seem to talk like a teen, I’ve been wondering if teenagers will be able to hear me for much longer.

I know I’m not the only one feeling this way. In one of Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ broadcasts, other older women confessed to feeling insecure, out-of-touch, or inadequate to speak into the lives of teenage girls. But whether you are a teacher, mentor, counselor, or hostess . . . you are called to reach out to the younger ones!

Titus 2:3-5 encourages both you and me to be teachers of younger women:

“Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.”

This call to us “older women” is just that. A call to be an older woman. Not a call to teach our peers. Not a call to teach those just a tad behind us so that we can relate to each other. But to take the heavy weight of years of walking with the Lord and offer it up in confidence believing that if God says it will work . . . it will work. It’s not about us. It’s about Him!

I was twenty-six when I taught my first retreat to teenage girls. Back then, I was their big sister and I studied the Word to encourage them in their Christian walk. But I was “just a few years ahead of them.” I hadn’t parented my own teenagers yet. I understood well the angst of being a teen, and was a great empathetic counselor, but didn’t have the wisdom of “the other side of the story” to counsel them as powerfully as I can today.

Now, I’m not afraid to speak hard truth to a teen girl, and my discernment has grown so I know when I need to do just that. Perhaps most importantly, I’ve now spent two decades marinating in the teachings of . . . well, older men and women!

I’m glad there are new “big sisters” out there whose wisdom and counsel is empathetic. I’m thankful they have the energy for sleepovers, shopping trips, and Thirty-Hour Famine’s like I used to have. I’m not saying they aren’t really valuable in our Christian youth culture, but I yearn for more teachers to stay engaged with the youth of the Church. And I long for my teenage daughters to experience the weight of the Word of God from teachers who’ve walked in it for decades!

I pray the next time I step onto the stage in front of teenage girls, I will not be aware of the barrier that my reading glasses, pressed blouse, or lack of UrbanDictionary.com language might be—and instead, be fully aware of the power in the Word.

Dannah and Erin Davis will be delivering mature content to the teens who attend True Woman ’12 during a full-day teen track. If you want an older woman teaching your daughter truth, consider attending this fantastic conference with her! 

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About the Author

Dannah Gresh

Dannah Gresh

Dannah Gresh is the best-selling author, speaker, and founder of True Girl (formerly Secret Keeper Girl), America's most popular Christian tween event. She has authored over 20 books that have been translated into 12 languages, including And the Bride Wore White, and Lies Girls Believe. Considered one of the leading experts on the subjects of sexual theology and parenting tweens and teens, her resources have equipped over one million moms and leaders as they seek to raise their girls in confidence and Truth. She has appeared on CNN, Fox News, and the TEDx stage. She lives on a hobby farm in State College, Pennsylvania with her husband, Bob, and over 20 animals. 

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