The Boys' Growing Up in the Lord

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I'm the kind of person that finds it very hard to be socially comfortable with people. I'm always nervous when communicating with people, especially with girls. So most of the time I keep myself to myself. But when alone I always find myself thinking about girls I know, and longing and craving to be with them and see them again, whether they're girls in the church or unbelievers. So it has become difficult to focus on God and things pertaining unto Him. I just want to know how I can stop thinking about girls and focus on God.


You are discovering something that God stated shortly after He created man, "It is not good that man should be alone" (Genesis 2:18). You have reached the age when you have noticed that there is another gender in the human race. Your developing body is eager to do what God made it to do -- to have sex -- but mentally you are not ready. That too is typical because we do not mature instantly, but rather piece by piece over a number of years.

It is normal and proper to want to find a girl who can be your companion for life. That is why God said, "For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). The "this reason" under consideration is the desire to have a companion. It is what will eventually motivate you to leave home and set up your own home.

What is improper, and what Satan plagues teenagers with, are ideas of skipping the whole courtship and marriage business and jumping straight into bed. Jesus warned, "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart" (Matthew 5:28). Read that statement again carefully. Jesus didn't say it was wrong to look at women. He said it was wrong to look at women for the purpose of lusting after them. In other words, it is wrong to look at women as sex objects. To see a girl and wonder if she might like to go out for ice cream with you is not wrong. To see a girl and wonder what she would be like in bed is a completely different matter.

If we can keep the distinction clear, then we won't go overboard by trying to be more "righteous" than God. "I have seen everything in my days of vanity: There is a just man who perishes in his righteousness, and there is a wicked man who prolongs life in his wickedness. Do not be overly righteous, nor be overly wise: why should you destroy yourself? Do not be overly wicked, nor be foolish: why should you die before your time? It is good that you grasp this, and also not remove your hand from the other; for he who fears God will escape them all" (Ecclesiastes 7:15-18). This is an important passage to understand. People have a tendency to see a danger, but then go to extremes trying to avoid the danger. In their extreme response, they actually end up sinning -- the very thing they were trying to avoid -- but in a different way. (See the sermon Extremes for more details about this verse if you are curious.)

"Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations-- "Do not touch, do not taste, do not handle," which all concern things which perish with the using--according to the commandments and doctrines of men? These things indeed have an appearance of wisdom in self-imposed religion, false humility, and neglect of the body, but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh" (Colossians 2:20-23). As often happens to people, the "rules" they make up for themselves often appear to make them more religious, but in truth they have no ability to help in our battle against sin. As you are discovering, you know there is a danger with going too far with a girl, so you avoid them, but it really doesn't deal with the problem and doesn't stop you from thinking about them. Nor should you stop thinking about them in a righteous way because one day you need to marry.

But now we need to address the other topic you brought up: social skills. I'm sure you are old enough to realize that you can't spend your adulthood being non-communicative. Life is about our interactions with other people. Some people are naturally good talkers and the rest of us have to work at it. Even the apostle Paul said he was an untrained speaker (II Corinthians 11:6) and that his detractors accused him of having contemptible speech (II Corinthians 10:10). Yet, that is not how we remember him. Paul didn't let such minor things in his view get in his way of teaching the gospel. Moses had a hard time speaking. "Then Moses said to the LORD, "O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue."" (Exodus 4:10). But Moses was Israel's greatest leader.

So what if social activity makes you nervous inside? Let us just suppose you are "handicapped" in this way (even though it is so common, especially among teenagers, that you really can't call it a handicap). What do you admire most about the handicapped? Isn't it the way that they adapt to their shortcomings and are able to live normal lives despite their handicap? What I'm pointing out is that you can use a lack of social graces as an excuse to cower behind, or you can swallow your pride, do what you know you need to do, and shrug off any lumps that might come your way.

As I mentioned, a lack of social skills is normal in teenagers for a period of their development. This is especially true for teenage boys. Just observe people and see how the teenage boys tend to communicate with only a few words or even grunts. Say the same thing to a teenage girl and you might get your ear talked off. But notice that in young men this lack of talk appears to wear off somewhere in their twenties -- though men never seem to catch up to women in their ability to chat. Therefore, it is easy to conclude that you are going through a phase of development that will ease in the coming years. I suspect it has to do with the general "re-wiring" of the brain that happens as teens move into adulthood.

Meanwhile, consider it a challenge or a puzzle to be solved. And here is a surprising thing: you can become someone socially interesting by just learning to listen really, really well. You don't even have to talk much. Just ask a question or two about someone else's interests to get the ball rolling and then listen with a sincere interest to what they say. It is a rare talent that can get you a long way in this world. "So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath" (James 2:19). You don't have to let your nervousness show. You know your heart is pounding, but no one else can see it. Work with it, work around it, but don't avoid people because of it.