Today I’m sharing a guest post from my son Joshua who wrote this piece, ‘Why Teenagers Should Study Worldview’ to encourage a group of teenagers to understand that their view of God shapes their view of every sphere of life. You may like to share it with your teenagers – or it may help you, as the parents, understand the importance of this type of study.
Why Teenagers Should Study Worldview
Worldview sounds like an abstract, philosophical phrase only philosophers and intellectuals need to know about. But in fact, it is extremely relevant, especially to teens. For every person, every story, every society and part of our culture, has a worldview- a way of seeing the world, that tells you what is important and what is not, and why. It asks, what is the purpose of life? How should we live? How should we treat people? How should we treat things?
Sure, when we were children, we mainly followed our parents’ worldview. But as teenagers, we start to develop our own set of values and priorities. It’s part of growing up. As we grow, we pick up our worldview from the world around us – parents, movies, God, the workplace, books, friends – and from the conscious decisions we make. And the worldview you design in your teen years will massively shape your life.
When I became a teenager, I started to read the Sherlock Holmes stories. I grew to really admire Holmes; his ruthless logic, his calm, detached intellect and his disdain for emotive outbursts. He was, to quote fawning Dr Watson, “a man of iron.”
Naturally, since I admired those traits, I started to adopt them myself. As I pursued Holmes-like rationality and intellect, I became arrogant and insensitive, just like Sherlock Holmes. I often left my friends feeling stupid so naturally these friendships started to break down. Even my relationship with my sister (until then my closest friend) took years to repair. I developed argumentative and arrogant habits which are still hard to shake.
You see, I had adopted a worldly worldview and I didn’t know it.
According to Mr Holmes, being logical is important and emotions are not. Sherlock valued facts and using his intellect to prove he was right. This was what was important to the great detective. This was his worldview and I had absorbed this set of priorities through the stories.
And that’s why as teenagers, we need to study worldviews. There are worldviews all around us, in literature, movies, advertising, workplace environments, among our friends, our family and in our churches. Some of these belief systems are good and some are not. Most are a mix. Which ones do you want to learn from? Which values do you want to keep, or modify, or reject?
That is what studying worldview is all about. If we don’t learn about worldviews, we’ll adopt them unthinkingly, and you might not desire those results.
The best place to start is by asking questions. Your worldview is your system of beliefs about what is important, and why, and thus, how should we live. So ask these questions: what does the new Marvel superhero movie think is important? Why does Sherlock Holmes value intellect over emotion? How does this workplace say I should live?
Ask the Bible the same questions. What does God value? Why? How does God see the world? Understanding God’s worldview will help you examine the worldviews of others.
Once we’ve processed these questions we have a choice to make – what worldview will I hold to, what beliefs will I build my life on?
As Joshua has clearly pointed out what we believe shapes our actions. Therefore, what we believe about God shapes our actions – in every sphere of our life. This is why it is important that our teens understand who God is and what is important to him – God word is relevant beyond our salvation.
The important thing to take away though – as a parent is that though worldview is often portrayed and presented as a study – it is far more. It is a way of thinking and believing. One of the most significant ways that we have helped our teens through this is by conversations. As Josh mentioned – ask questions of the things happening around you.
- How does knowing God and his word affect science, law, humanity, medicine, education, family etc?
- How does knowing God and his word affect my engagement with the environment, art, politics, the community?
- How does knowing God change how I relate to people and carry out my responsibilities?
These are the type of questions that we often talk about over meal times – especially Sunday morning breakfast.
If you want a good resource the best we have found – for senior highschool, young adults and adults – is Focus on the Family’s The Truth Project.
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