Young people are amazing!
This is my very biased opinion based on lived experience, and about a decade of working in youth ministries and programs. This is my opinion based on my daily interactions with children and families in hardship. This is my opinion as I watch my friends’ babies learn, but also teach. This is my opinion based on the brave responses of a generation to the injustices of the world they’re inheriting.
Young people blow me away. They are robustly resilient but also soft and kind, intelligent but fiercely passionate, hilarious but simultaneously hungry for depth and authenticity. And they are heart and soul committed to causes they feel are worthy of time and attention.
But I would be lying if I didn’t also say there are times this generation overwhelms me with red flags and ‘X’ epidemics (X = obesity, mental illness, drug addiction etc). So, I need to say this: our young people need you.
I’m encouraged by the words of Paul to his young friend, Timothy in 1 Timothy 4. Paul doesn’t waste his influence gatekeeping and hoarding opportunity. He acknowledges the weight of his words and speaks truth over the young man. Our young people need champions within their circle to encourage them, inspire them, hold them accountable and challenge them, extend forgiveness to them, point them toward Jesus and make a way for them. Perhaps the greatest philosophy in youth work is one that says, ‘my ceiling is your floor’.
Young people desire to be seen and heard, known, and loved. Our young people have profound ideas and insights to change the world, but also yearn to be held and nurtured by spiritual parents. They need role models and present (available) parents more desperately than I can tell you. And while it may look different from the way older generations have done it, our young people love the Church. We can trust them, we can be taught by them, we can invest in them. We are on the same team!
Father, thank you for my youth and the voices that shaped and guided me. Show me how I can use my influence, my wisdom, and my experience to better love the generations to come. Show me how I can make a way for their thoughts, ideas, and gifts and, Father, help me to trust them with your Church like you do. Amen.