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Is Technology Ruining The Next Gen’s Ability to Have a Conversation?

You’ve been seeing it for a number of years now – the prediction for millennials and younger. The warning that so much time spent on technological devices could cause damage to their social skills. So, the time has come to look at some anecdotal evidence:

Something happens on social media or in a texting dialogue, and a young person gets hurt. Rather than asking for clarification or an apology, she stews over it and fails to accomplish resolution.

Someone sends him a message, but since he wasn’t asked a question, he sees no point in responding.

She would like to sit down and thoroughly discuss some upcoming plans, but the new social norms dictate that she go with the flow, not ask too many questions, and keep her feelings out of it.

He can carry a lively and meaningful conversation about pop culture, but when asked by someone close to him which traits he would like in a future wife and how he might give his children a Biblical worldview, he feels extremely awkward and changes the subject.

She’s learned a lot through social media about how to keep and lose “friendships” in her life. Unfortunately, many of those lessons ignore the technique and benefits of challenging, deep conversations.

He did respond to the question she messaged to him, but it’s been so long since she asked it, she has to go back to the original text to see what he was talking about. Waiting several days to finish a discussion is deemed so acceptable these days that the possible consequences can be forgotten.

 Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

1. Look no further than to John, the Bible’s relational expert who taught the importance of meaningful conversation for the purposes of:

  • Talking with others about what really matters in life (Jn. 1; 3:27-36; 5:31-47; 20:11-18)
  • Understanding eternal needs, even if asking is intimidating and you need to talk about it in a very private setting (Jn. 3:1-21)
  • Confessing sin to God and safe persons so that repentance and authentic relationship will follow (Jn. 4:1-42; 5:1-15)
  • Learning how to pray, the most important communication of all (Jn. 4:46-53; 11:1-44; 17:1-26)
  • Becoming a good listener, open and teachable, and speaking carefully in order to better hear (Jn. 6:22-40; 21:15-19)
  • Applying meaningful words and explanations to thoughtful actions so that others feel secure and loved (Jn. 13:1-17; 19:25-27) 
  • Speaking wisely, gently, and humbly the words to others that God wants them to hear, when they need to hear them (1 Jn. 1:1-3)
  • Living in the joy of having face-to-face, transparent conversations (2 John 12)

2. Motivated by the above: a) admit the areas of communication where you are personally weak b) study Scripture for lessons in the art of dialogue c) don’t let technology shape you into someone you don’t want to be and d) begin practicing a more considerate, thoughtful approach to interacting with others.

A word spoken in due season, how good it is! (Prov. 15:23)

How Many Apologies Does It Take?

So you’ve messed up and apologized. You only owe one apology per offense, right? Not necessarily. Yes, the person you wronged is commanded to be quick to forgive you, but some cases can be better resolved after multiple apologies. Likewise, several layers of apologies may be helpful to restore intimacy.

As a Christian, you are not condemned. So, if you’re feeling unsettled even after you’ve apologized, you’ll want to proceed prayerfully to know if the Lord is prompting a next-level apology…or to see if this idea is actually coming out of wrong reasons such as people-pleasing, co-dependency issues, false guilt, etc.

If someone is coming to your mind right now and you’re wondering if you need to apologize again (or maybe even apologize when you’re the one who is owed an apology), the following exercise can help guide you.

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

*Is the Lord speaking to your situation through these apologetic scenarios?

“So, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Mt. 5:23-24). There’s room here for the possibility that the one at the altar could extend a previous apology, yet it lack enough depth or sincerity for the brother to release the grievance.

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone…if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you…” (Mt. 18:15, 16). There’s room here for the possibility that a brother might only offer a half-apology and not agree when being asked for a more complete apology.

“…you were grieved into repenting…” (2 Cor. 7:9). There’s room here for the possibility that as they grieved, the repentant ones became increasingly sorry, maybe even apologizing once more. There’s also room here for the possibility that during the grieving period the offended can be struggling to forgive; but once a fresh apology is delivered, forgiveness comes easier.

 *Does this basic truth resonate?

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17). There’s room here for the possibility that an apology you previously gave – before you knew Christ – doesn’t feel sorrowful enough to you now, and you want to do it again.

*Do any of these foundational commands apply?

“You shall love the Lord God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength (Mk. 12:30). There’s room here for the possibility that the more of you that loves God, the more you’re able to hear Him telling you to do a better job apologizing.

 “…be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (Rom. 12:2). There’s room here for the possibility that with a renewed mind, you think differently about the situation and can apologize with a clearer perspective now.

 “…continue to work out your own salvation…” (Phil. 2:12). There’s room here for the possibility that the more you live out your salvation, the more regretful you’ll feel about your sin towards another, leading you to a more deep and sincere level of apology.

*Still not sure?

“Humble yourself before the Lord, and He will exalt you…Carry out this act of grace…for the glory of the Lord…” (Jas. 4:10; 2 Cor. 8:19). There’s room here for the possibility that if you’re being led to offer someone another apology – and it’s coming from a humble place in your heart – then God is being glorified by you!

Want Teens to Talk to You? Start By Asking This Essential Question

In last week’s Keeping Room article, it was emphasized that youth need to stop believing lies about adults not being trustworthy, and adults need to do as much as they can to encourage kids to talk to them.

Meanwhile, the Dean of Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, James E. Ryan, has just released a book entitled Wait, What? And Life’s Other Essential Questions. Inside this published commencement address, Ryan proposes a few key questions that he believes significantly increase one’s successes and relationships both personally and professionally. And, one of his questions stands out as being a great one for adults to ask young people…

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

1.When you’re talking to youth, use this question: How Can I help?  In fact, before you jump in to problem-solve, give your opinion, or save the day, just ask this question.

2.If you love this “how can I help” question, check out the Wait, What book for the rest of Ryan’s suggested questions. Posing good questions could improve your communication with every person and every situation.

3.James E. Ryan is not the first one to model asking great questions. Consider just a few of the questions Jesus asked:

  • Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? (Mt. 6:27)
  • Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? (Mt. 7:3)
  • Why all this commotion and wailing? (Mk. 5:39)
  • Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you? (Mt. 18:33)
  • What are you arguing with them about? (Mk. 9:16)
  • Do you believe that I am able to do this? (Mt. 9:28)
  • Where is your faith? (Lk. 8:25)
  • If I am telling the Truth, why don’t you believe Me? (Jn. 8:46)
  • Why question Me? (Jn.18:21)
  • Do you love Me? (Jn. 21:17)

Your kids may not have answers to the Jesus-questions just yet. But His questions are great questions to ask yourself at the same time you are asking youth the first question of: How Can I Help?

2 Reasons Cussing is Bad for You

Foul language echoes up to heaven because it’s a soul issue.

First, the release of a bad word reveals an opportunity for emotional growth. Those who are emotionally mature know how to control strong and negative emotions…are able to specifically express feelings in a gentle tone…receive help from the Lord in being calm and comforted…and aim to resolve conflict through peace, love, and respect. Despite what culture celebrates, the regular use of profanity qualifies as a mark of low emotional IQ, which contributes to struggles in relationships and overall functionality.

Second, impure word choices are a reflection of this culture’s disregard for sacredness. There are words used by Millennials today – that if Gen X-ers had said them – their mouths would have been washed out with soap by their Baby Boomer/Silent parents. Even some preachers use words in their sermons today that were considered inappropriate just 30 years ago. Consequently, Christians – people who are supposed to reflect Christ – are struggling to maintain holiness because of crass surroundings.

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:                                 

  • Determine to raise your emotional IQ so that you can be mature in relationships and in life. (Luke 2:52)
    1. Practice truthfully acknowledging and lovingly expressing your feelings
    2. Have a plan when facing the temptation to curse. This might include asking friends or colleagues if they could refrain from using certain words when you are around. Assume full responsibility by telling them that you have a goal not to cuss and you know you’ll give into it if you keep hearing those words.
    3. Decide what to do with strong emotions such as anger or frustration.
    4. Spend time in God’s Word studying negative emotions such as worry, and learn how He wants to take on those feelings for you.
    5. Do a word study of “mouth” and “tongue” in Psalms and Proverbs to understand the seriousness of language choice.
    6. Discover how to respond to others in soothing, encouraging, and emotionally kind ways.
    7. Train your feelings to follow the leading of Truth.
  • Desire more holiness. (1 Pet. 1:15-16)
    1. Elisabeth Elliot wrote, “The wholeness of the Body of Christ is the holiness of the Body…as each individual member grows in holiness, the Body grows in holiness. And this matters to God.
    2. Notice how even phrases such as “binge watching” “hijacking” and “suicide/kill myself” are carelessly tossed around without sensitivity to people who truly suffer as a result of binging, hijackings, and suicides. Those aren’t necessarily “bad” words, but they’re not necessarily used in good and holy ways. Choose words with care, thoughtfulness, and self-control, and you’ll grow in godliness.
    3. Discover God’s attributes, take in His Word, and let Him help you feel, act, and speak more like His Son.
    4. Be willing to be the student or colleague who never lets a bad word slip. It’s a fact that people will notice and some will be inspired. 

His demands always direct us to what’s good for us: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” (Eph. 4:29)

Dealing with Lies and Those Who Tell Them

Why do kids and teens lie to their parents? Why do some people fib so incessantly that it’s a habitual automatic response?

 Some explanations include:

  • To avoid getting into trouble, not wanting to make someone mad
  • Fearing the potential reaction to the truth, experiencing shame
  • Driven by what others will think if the truth is told, wanting to save face
  • A desire to be liked, popular, entertaining, or funny
  • Deep insecurity
  • To boost one’s feeling of worthiness, to fit in
  • Perfectionism
  • A problem with self-centeredness, wanting one’s way, not wanting to do what is hard
  • A need to control or manipulate a situation
  • When it’s become so normal that telling the truth is awkward and uncomfortable, while lying feels right (often developed in childhood when lying felt necessary)

Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:

Don’t be so shocked when someone gives less than the truth. Remember that the heart is deceitful (Jer. 17:9) and everyone struggles with sin. (Rom. 3:23)

Read Proverbs 30:8a. Start with yourself. How can you grow in your own love for truth, and what lies do you need the Lord to keep away from coming out of your mouth?

Study Ephesians 4:22-25. Perhaps those who lie to you have not yet understood the truth that is in Jesus, and have not yet put on a new self. They may not grasp what it means to be a member of His body, called to speak the truth with one another.

Look at these 4 key verses to understand the spiritual impact. When others decide to bear false witness (lie) (Ex. 20:16) they become like a sharp arrow (Prov. 25:18), and they miss out on the opportunity to bear true witness of Him (give evidence of Him)  (Jn. 7:18). Show compassion for those who lie. Turn any judgmental disappointment into tender requests of the Lord to guide you in ways to gently restore them to truth and to empower them to be humble witnesses to the truth, which is for their own good (Jn. 7:18; Gal. 6:1).

If you want to help someone feel safe to tell you the truth, invite him to suggest the ways you can respond that will help him resist the temptation to lie. For example, before he tells the truth, he might ask you not to laugh, get mad, or yell.

If you want to help someone feel confident enough to tell the truth, help her believe that God accepts her just the way she is, and He desires her to be humbly transparent, not perfect. Explain to her that putting on a false mask gives others an opaque view of who she is and puts an unnecessary burden on herself to try to please those who may never accept her.

If you are struggling to trust someone who continually lies to you, remember that there is One who is perfectly trustworthy. He can heal you from the hurts the lies have caused, pour onto you His unending grace, and give you wisdom to know how to foster truthful conversations. The Lord can help you see where He is at work in the lying person’s life, show you how to pray for the relationship, enable you to trust again, and make you more like Christ in the process.

Online Body-Building (The best way to use social media)

What decision have you made when it comes to social media? Have you forgotten what life is like without it? Or do you stay away from it as much as you can? It might not be for everyone, but if you or your teens are already active on social media, there are ways to make it even better.

Biblical Starting Point:

  1. You are equipped to encourage the Body of Christ (through social media) towards: unity in faith, knowledge of the Son of God, maturity, and the fullness of Christ. (Eph. 4:12-13)
  2. One generation to another shall commend His works (on social media)…and pour forth His fame(Ps. 145:4, 7)

Keeping Room Tips:

* Conduct an evaluation of your social media footprint. Have you created a large kingdom dedicated to your fame? How can you shift the attention onto God and His majestic ways? (Ps. 145:5)

* When you share your life with others through social media, do this in such a way that others see what God is doing in your life. This motivates others and gives glory to your Father. (Mt. 5:16)

* Be mindful of the fact that there are people following you on social media who don’t think about where they will go when they die. Use this opportunity to persuade others to think about it. (2 Cor. 5:11)

* Be honest with yourself about how much time you are taking away from others when you are on social media. Consider blocking off specific times to be away from social media so that you can have non-distracted moments to focus on those who are present with you. (Phil. 2:4)

* Think of your soft spot (Christian persecution in Iran, orphans in Uganda, enslaved women in Thailand, etc.) and find ways to use your online voice to raise awareness and refresh the spirits of others you may never meet. (Philemon 1:7)

* Correct false perceptions about Jesus and Christianity by communicating online in a way that presents the truth in love and gently restores. (Gal 6:1; Eph. 4:15)

*Abandon any preoccupation over how many “likes” or “friends” or “followers” you have on social media, and celebrate the ways your spiritual gifts can make you a great online Body-builder. (Eph. 4:16)