Hello everyone! Long time, no post!
Summer has just completely gotten away from me. It seems like May was literally three days ago. And the fact that I have seen fall decorations start to appear in the store? Mind = blown.
Anyway, despite the existential struggle of time moving at an unpleasant speed, a lot of you know that I went to our church’s youth summer camp as a leader this year.
I’ll spare you the details of how wonderful and encouraging it was to talk about a topic very close to my heart.
I was often reminded during the week of camp about something I realized a long time ago.
When I was about thirteen, I was a relatively new Christian, and I started taking guitar lessons with a young woman who went to our homeschool group.
The biggest thing I remember–she was probably seventeen at the time–was that she talked to me as if we were the same age. She let me borrow books and we would fangirl about them and squeal over the cute guy. Our guitar lessons would sometimes end in uncontrollable laughter.
But she would also encourage me in the Lord. As a young person, I remember admiring her as she dealt with things and shared them with me…as if we were equal!
But then life happened.
She went to a community college and broke off our guitar lessons, and I actually haven’t seen her since.
When that relationship ended so abruptly, I was incredibly hurt. I was basically forgotten and (in my young mind), felt betrayed.
In retrospect, I get it. I do. Guitar lessons would not have fit into her schedule, she had other responsibilities, and was becoming an adult with a lot on her plate.
But I remember laying in bed one night, thinking about how young adults get so caught up in their future and their own lives, that they forget about the youth looking up to them.
I don’t think we realize what a responsibility we have to the generation right behind us.
Because we don’t think about it.
They’re not our kids or our siblings. We don’t really “do” anything with them, besides see them running around after church, nor do we have any inherent reason to be involved in their lives.
What’s the big deal?
Those of us that are 17 and above have an opportunity with the youth that even young married people don’t have.
We’re the “next stage” for these kids.
Marriage or kids or careers are probably the farthest things from their minds.
But taking their first steps towards adulthood?
That’s a big, looming cloud waiting a few paces away for a 12-16 year-old.
If we give them a true Christlike example to follow, what a blessing that would be for them!
And, yeah, us 18-25ish people are getting pretty crabby in our old age, but I think it’s easier for a young person to come talk to us, versus someone who’s married or elderly.
And I think this particular age group is somewhat neglected in a lot of areas, because we older people think, “they’re too young to have deep roots in Christ”, or “their lives are so easy! What trials could they really be facing?”
People tend to think it’s us college-age kids who need to be the focus! (and it’s true–we need a lot of help!)
But if we come alongside and equip the younger generation to deal with the problems we’re facing?
What a tremendous blessing.
We have the opportunity to pave the way for the youth, to help them grow in maturity in Christ.
But that also means prioritizing them.
We get so busy in school or work or whatever it might be, that perhaps we think we “don’t have time” to get to know the youth group kids, or just the young people in your lives, generally.
We’re “too busy”.
We “have a lot going on”.
And…we do. We are busy growing and learning and having responsibilities.
Yes, we’re busy…but we do have time.
Try replacing the words “I don’t have time” with “That’s not a priority”.
Is the opportunity to mentor and encourage a young person really less important than watching two hours of Netflix?
Over the years, this topic has really transformed the way I think and serve.
We need to step up. We need to equip ourselves with the Word. And we need to take a little responsibility for the younger people in our lives.
It matters, friends. It matters so much.
And a lot of people don’t realize this.
We get so caught up in finding mentors and Biblical examples for our own lives that we forget to do the same in other people’s lives.
Put yourself in a fourteen-year-old’s shoes.
What if one of the “cool college kids” not only talked and laughed with you as a friend, but truly cared about the wellbeing of your soul?
What if they took you out to lunch and asked how you were doing spiritually and how they can pray for you?
What if they took the time to send you a podcast sermon and said, “this reminded me of something you were struggling with last week, hope it encourages you”?
What kind of a blessing would that have been?
And what a contrast to the world!
Because here you are, fighting tooth and nail against the world, striving for God’s glory in a world that is so against Him, and still seeking to uplift a young person.
That’s what these kids are seeing.
But you have to get to know them first.
Let’s be honest: This stage in our lives is a pretty selfish one.
Where do we want to go to college? Where should we work? What do we want to do with our lives? How can we benefit? Who should we hang out with?
Everything is about us, because that’s what the world tailors out lives to be.
We’re starting our lives! We are the ones who need to be fed the Word and be poured into!
But we’re missing out, friends. We’re missing out on being a functioning part of the body of Christ.
If we take and take and take, what master are we serving?
So all of that is to say this: Think about the next generation. Think about how you can come alongside them.
Because here’s the thing: They are fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
They’re young, sure.
But they are also running the same race as we are.
We have to stop overlooking them.
And we need to start encouraging them.
Besides, you might just find that they’re way cooler and more fun than you think 😉