Help Your Teenagers Find Purpose and Set Goals
“Purpose” is a buzzword in many churches these days, as Christians explore what it means to live intentionally. God has a purpose, or plan, for each of our lives. Teenagers also must discover their particular purpose and find ways to live it out.
Coming up with a mission statement is a helpful first step. You can even do this together as a family. For Christians, a mission statement will revolve around faith and service, but it also can include your passions and dreams. Brainstorm a sentence or two dealing with each of these areas: mind, body, heart, and spirit.
Another way to explore your purpose is asking, “What do you stand for?” Our culture encourages today’s teenagers to stand for riches and fame, but Jesus calls his followers to deny and humble themselves. He calls us to “produce lasting fruit” (John 15:16). Our lives should reflect the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
After teenagers discover their purpose, they can set goals for achieving it. If goals are to be meaningful, kids must set them themselves. Counselor Steve Merritt, writing in Group Magazine, defines goals as “good things we can bring about ourselves, as long as we do it without control or manipulation.” All parents desire good things for our teenagers, but we can’t always be involved in making them happen. Kids must be passionate about their own goals and self-motivated about reaching them. And for goals to be God-pleasing, we must reach them in ways that honor him. Keep reading to learn more about purpose and goals.
People of all ages wonder, “What’s my purpose in life?” Author Katie Brazelton offers six principles for journeying from emptiness to purposefulness:
Step toward the pathway. The most important step is the first one. If you’re looking for purpose, start your journey.
1. Never walk alone. A close friend who offers objective counsel can keep you on track, especially when you want to stop.
2. Follow in Jesus’ footsteps. The Lord is our salvation and shepherd, and he’s also the example we’re to follow. Jesus always stayed “on task.” His focus was clear.
3. Go the extra mile. Your pathway to purpose will probably take longer than you’d thought. Keep walking, and stay the course.
4. Run to Jesus. He cares for you and wants you to find purpose. He’ll be waiting for you at the end of your quest. Use his presence as your incentive to keep pressing on.
5. Point others to the pathway. Share your discovery and excitement with others you care about.


Here are some snapshots of what today’s teenagers and young people strive for:
– When 4,600 kids ages 12 to 19 were asked about their life goals, the top response (86%) was “enjoy life.” Other top vote-getters were “have good relationships with friends and family” (82%), “get married” (78%), “make lots of money” (73%), “have children” (72%), and “travel” (65%). (Mediamark Research)

– When almost 600 young people ages 18 to 25 were surveyed about their generation’s top goals, the top response was “to get rich” (81%). Next was “to be famous” (51%), “to help people who need help” (30%), “to be leaders in their community” (22%), and “to become more spiritual” (10%). (Pew Research Center)


Great Questions
…to Ask Your Kids
Use these discussions starters to help teenagers think about their life’s purpose and goals.
1. What would you say you stand for, and why? How might some of your peers answer this question?
2. Do you already know the purpose that God has for your life? Explain.
3. What are some of your short- and long-term goals? How do you plan to reach each of them?
4. What would make a good mission statement for your life? for our family?

Pray that:
1. Your teenagers realize that their true purpose comes from God.
2. God will reveal to your teenagers his special plan for their lives.
3. Your teenagers will set goals that honor God and will be motivated to work hard to meet those goals.
4. God will use your teenagers to reveal his purpose to other people.

“I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (Philippians 3:13-14)

Earthly goals are important, but there’s only one thing that truly matters: that we have faith in Jesus as our Savior and life forever in heaven with him. No matter what other goals we set, that eternal goal should be at the forefront of our lives and affect everything else we do.


What’s Up With Kids
At, youth minister Danny Bowers uses the acronym G.R.O.W. to explore healthy, growing ministries. His points apply to healthy, growing young people, as well.

Teenagers need something they’re working to accomplish. The list could be endless, but when we set goals, we need to know that they are attainable and reachable.
This is the gut-check after you set your goals. You have to know your starting point, as well as the foundation you have to work with. Sometimes the reality check can be encouraging, frustrating, or scary. But remember, it just gives you a place to start, not a finish.
This is your brainstorming attack session. How will the goals stimulate you to move forward? The “how do we get there?” is up in the air. I love allowing a “sky is the limit” type thinking because of the amount of excitement that can be built and used to move forward. Look at the resources or people available to help you reach your goals. Sometimes your options may seem inadequate or nonexistent, but remember that we do the possible; God takes care of the impossible.
Many of us can get stuck when we put our thoughts to the future. As we set goals, we have to think where we’re ultimately going. What do we need to prepare ourselves for? None of us sets goals and expect them NOT to be obtained. Why put forth the energy if we aren’t going to do what it takes to make it work? Many times we may have to become flexible and make adjustments along the way. There’s no steadfast rule that once a goal is set, it’s set in stone. Flexibility and creativity are key.


Are You A Marketer?
I’m a marketer. It’s what I do when I’m not thinking up ways to reach your kids with a good message while not letting them know I’m doing it. And while you may not think of yourself as a marketer, the reality is that the role of a parent involves quite a bit of marketing. You have to sell your kids on the idea that coming to UMYF weekly events will somehow be good for them (or at least be a fun break from the rest of their week), you have to convince your kids that helping with VBS or participating in Mission Week is a good investment and possibly a better decision than sports camp or a full time summer job.

Maybe you’ve never thought about those things as marketing, but they really are functions of marketing (though sometimes in the Christian world, these things might actually be called “outreach”). Unfortunately, over the years the word “marketing” has been negatively associated with people who interrupt your dinner to sell you a time share in the Bahamas that you can’t afford, or the ones who send you unwanted mail on a regular basis (fondly referred to as “junk mail”), so it’s understandable if people don’t want to consider themselves marketers. But times they are a-changing.
Marketing and promotions have changed drastically over the past few years as media and technology have shifted and morphed into the world of social networks we are now navigating on the web. Now rather than talking “to” an audience, marketers can actually have conversations “with” their audience. (Do you have a Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram?) While the methods have changed, the main purpose for marketing remains the same: At the heart of it, marketing is about telling a story that motivates people to action. It’s about helping your kids to feel like they’re part of something bigger and meaningful. It’s about welcoming them into the story and allowing them to shape their future.
So when you think of marketing that way, it’s probably a little easier to see how you’ve been “marketing” all along to your kids. When you ask your son or daughter about the youth group or mission trip (Hopefully you will find it has impacted their life) they’re sharing a story with you that later they might retell to others. They may not retell it face to face because new media is part of their mix. When they post a story or photos to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram  that’s marketing. When they blog about lives that are being changed in their youth group, that’s marketing. When they send text messages to each other letting them know what’s coming up in the group, that’s marketing. By asking them about their lives you help them form thoughts that may later become marketing with a good message while not letting them know you were doing it.