Young people are interesting. They are constantly growing and changing. At times though, they get stuck on an idea and can become as stubborn as any stereotypical “old person” about refusing to change their minds. In the secular world, teachers and others may be encouraging kids and teens to change their minds and accept “enlightened” ideas. Some of them may indeed be good, but because there is often no biblical standard by which they compare their ideas, they may be teaching your kids ideas that are very much against God’s teaching.
It’s critical we teach young people how to decide whether or not they should change their mind. How can we do that though, when often adults in the same congregation can’t seem to agree on what each considers core biblical ideas at times? It’s not easy, but there are some basic principles they can use that will help.
- Do their research. Whether it’s a new idea or belief they are considering or if someone is trying to get them to change a belief they already hold, this is the first step. Their first resource should always be the Bible. They personally need to read everything they can find on the topic in the Bible – without preconceived ideas. How would they summarize what they read in their own words? Does changing their minds mean they have to ignore, disobey or try to talk their way out of something they read meaning what it actually says? All of those are red flags they should note.
- Pray. Pray about what they read in the Bible. Ask God to give them wisdom and discernment. Pray they remain humble in their attempts to obey God rather than try to force their preferences onto God.
- Do outside research. What do their parents think? Their minister, Bible class teacher or church leaders? What about Bible study aids? What are the different points of view? What are the possible problems with logic, scripture or other aspects of the various arguments?
- Pay attention to metacognition. This is the step most adults miss that can lead them into blind disobedience to God. As they read God’s commands in the Bible, what are their thoughts? If they are thinking something like, “I know that’s what the Bible says, but I…” that’s another huge red flag their personal desires are winning out over their hearts’ desire to be fully who God wants them to be.
- Pro/Con list their current belief and the one to which they are being encouraged to adopt instead. They should consider questions like, “Is it biblical?” “Will changing my mind make God happier?” “Is changing my mind moving me closer to making God or myself Lord of my life?” “What does God want me to do?” “What’s the next right thing for me to do?”
Help your Bible students practice by giving them secular ideas to process using this method. Make it as fun as possible, but this is not a game and some students will find it challenging or even tedious. Explain that it is unusual someone raised in Church suddenly wakes up and rejects God for no reason. It is all of these seemingly little mind changes that occur over time which gradually pull them away from God. Teaching them how to change their mind only when it is God’s will can save them a lot of spiritual grief.