I recently read a helpful definition of self-control: choosing what I truly want over what I want right now. The key to controlling myself is to let my real goals win over instant satisfaction. Sounds so simple right? The truth is, it's tough to gain self-control all at once. Invariably, our best efforts last a couple of days and we are back to the same behavior(s). Self-control isn't about one decisive declaration. It's making choices over and over, day after day, and starting over again when we slip up, which we will. It's reminding ourselves what we are trying to accomplish and why it's important. Paul said that we are runners and should fix our eyes on the prize. Self-control isn't saying once and for all "I'm done with X," or I'm going to do Y." It's living out those words every day.
So how do we do that? We know we can't do it with our own willpower. What we need is God-control. God calls each one of us into the center of His love. Daily, we can be reminded by the Holy Spirit to choose between the present unpleasantness of our behavior or the future blessing of a disciplined decision. It's learning that God will help us conquer any area of our life that is out of control, as long as we remain centered in God. With humility, remember that apart from God, you can do nothing (John 15:5).
Talk to your teen...
What choices/temptations do you struggle with each day?
What strategies and reminders would help you make good decisions that will benefit you in the long run?
Challenge your teen...
Talk to another friend, adult, or teacher about your struggles. Ask them to pray for you and hold you accountable for your behavior.
God, help me to hand over my struggles to you. Let me count on the help of friends and to be filled with your presence so that I can live a better life, free of bad habits and behaviors.