The teen years are tough. In those few short years, you get a new body, new attitudes, new desires, and new responsibilities. The hard part is that you have to deal with all these new aspects while surrounded by people. Even worse, Hollywood shows you perfect-looking teens, with perfect-looking families living perfect-looking lives. And you?
How could an average-looking teen, with average-looking friends, in an average-looking family be anything but average? Many teens like you struggle with inaccurate and negative thoughts of themselves. Is there any remedy?
The Pill of Perspective
A warped human nature drives people to extremes. A proud, bragging believer does not view his sinfulness the way God does. A depressed, fearful Christian does not see God’s strength and worthiness. Viewing yourself as God sees you helps you face your deficiencies and keeps you from overconfidence. Really, you don’t need more self-confidence; you need a more accurate view of your inabilities and of God’s abilities. What a gracious God He is! Could you trust Him to tell you what you are? Could you rely on His ability to help you day by day? Paul had taken the pill of perspective when He wrote to the Ephesians. He recognized his failure and lack of merit and yet rejoiced in God’s power, grace, and abundant mercy.
The Vitamin of Value
The need to feel noticed, significant, and appreciated is universal. Little children, and even some teens and adults, go to great lengths to be approved and valued by others. Even Pilate craved importance; to gain the crowd’s favor he allowed the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus.
Does your value really depend on the applause and praise of others? Consider God’s incredible estimation of you: "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?" (Mark 8:36). You, alone, are worth more than all the cash in all the banks in the world. Even more, Paul wrote, "you were bought with a price" (1 Corinthians 6:20). God was willing to purchase you at an inconceivable cost: the life and blood of His dear Son.
If you could enjoy your importance and preciousness to God, you wouldn’t need to "get a boyfriend who makes you feel special" at age 16. If you aren’t the funniest, the most outgoing, or the most liked in class, it will not change how valuable you are. Focusing on what God thinks of you will humble your heart, sanctify your life, and free you to live, confiding (there’s the word!) in His love and His estimate of you.
"If you aren’t the funniest, the most outgoing, or the most liked in class, it will not change how valuable you are."
The Antibiotic of Acceptance
The longing to be accepted by others drives many teens to join gangs or stick with friends who are a bad influence. To be accepted by others may cause you as a believer to go against your convictions and disobey the Lord. Acceptance is a powerful need.
The Christian teenager is not exempt from the magnetic pull to be "part of the group." Wouldn’t it be wonderful if somebody were to accept you just the way you are - even if he or she knew all about your defects, limitations, inabilities, and even all your sin? Welcome to the Bible! God says, "He hath made us accepted in the Beloved [One]" (Ephesians 1:6, KJV). God called you just as you were - a sinner! He knows all your faults and failures. He knows how evil your desires can be, how limited your abilities are, and how far you are from perfect. And yet, He has chosen to "accept you" and "adopt" you into His family. Why would He do that? Obviously, it is not because you deserve it; God accepts all who are connected to His Son by faith. You are accepted "in the Beloved One," just as much as if you were His Son.
So, you belong, brother! You are accepted, sister! Even if you accidentally made a fool of yourself, sinned, or were rejected by others, nothing changes. Your heavenly Father still loves you and accepts you in Christ. Although everyone should strive for improvement, there is no need to seek group approval or fear rejection. The greatest Person of all has "accepted" and "adopted" you - once and forever!
The Surgery of Selflessness
Depression and worry can turn your focus inward. It is easy to be consumed with how you look and how you feel. The Apostle Paul gave us the model of the mind of Christ by saying, "Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others" (Philippians 2:4, KJV).
If you truly believed your friend could be in hell, would you really mind "looking foolish?" Spiritually, there is no limit as to what you could do for God. Literally, you could not find enough hours in the day or pennies in your pocket to help others. Just look around, the needs are infinite. So, when you are feeling down on yourself, first confess your selfishness to God, then go and help someone. Who could you encourage with a text, call or a visit? What could you do to make someone’s life brighter? Write a note of appreciation to an elder; cut a believer’s lawn; babysit a sister’s five children to give her a break; cover a neighborhood with invitations and gospel papers. Go and "give your neck" for the sake of others. God made you and saved you to serve Him. Enjoying life depends on forgetting self and becoming consumed with love and care for others, just like our Savior.
Living with God’s viewpoint of who you are, what you have done, and what you could do is the only prescription to get rid of selfish, negative thoughts. Only by adopting God’s perspective about yourself can have true joy and peace in your heart. So, go get your Bible and learn more of God’s thoughts and then practice more of God’s ways as you seek to meet the needs of others. This will make all the difference in the confidence you lack.