“I started sleeping with him because I thought he would like me.” These are words you never want told to you–especially by one of your students in your ministry–but I heard them. She was only sixteen, had her whole life ahead of her and now she would forever be on a different path. It’s sick really, when you think about it. Teens everywhere are forsaking their morals, standards, character, and Biblical guidelines for a myriad of poor choices that leave them broken, confused, lonely, and lacking the ability to contribute positively to others. However, I have never met a kid that has told me that her she wanted to fail. I have never met one boy or girl that told me that they want to feel broken–life choices took them there.
My goal is to preach, teach, and try to model an alternative to this. My goal is present the Gospel and the power that it brings. This “alternative” is so important because without it we are telling kids to live right without showing them a way to do so. What happens then is that they see what they should be accomplishing, attempt to reach it on their own, and then fail. This failure leads to them have low self-esteem, questioning if they can find peace, and wonder where the Gospel fits in.
I love to rock climb. I’ve been doing it for years now and love the challenge of it all. You step up to a rock face that looks like a sheer wall to the untrained eye. You can see the top–and you can have all the gear to get there; but without knowing the route you’re left standing at the bottom. Yet when someone comes along side of you and shows you where to place your hands and feet, encourages you to reach out for the hold that seems so far away, and teaches you how to trust your gear–it makes all the difference. What does that do for you? It empowers you, doesn’t it? This is what we want to do.
Our ministry recognizes that teens ages 12-18 are in a season of transition from child to adulthood. They want to gain their own identity, find their purpose, and should have a true and authentic faith of their own. Our goal is to give them the gear for the climb and support parents in modeling what that climb looks like. This means that as guides we have to first show them that we have been there ourselves. This requires transparency on our part. Teens have to see that we have made mistakes and have gone through adversity, and through that found Christ–the perfect model and guide.
Bruce Johnston, a life-coach for parents and teens, said this, “A parent becomes successful through adversity, then with his success he banishes from his children’s lives the very thing, adversity, that made him successful.”
Have you ever done this? I know that I have as a parent and leader. Once I was training one of my staff how to use new software for her computer. It was a pretty extensive program that took me quite some time to learn. After the first thirty minutes or so of teaching her, I grew frustrated and wanted to just take the mouse and do it myself. We had to struggle, both of us, for her to learn. To remove the adversity would have removed her opportunity to grow. What happens when we try and climb the route for our children is that they will never learn to make it on their own. They will not have the opportunity to build strength in their arms, learn to trust the rope from the various falls, or gain humility by listening to others. We have to show them our failures and model for them how to climb.
I believe that we can do better as leaders to provide kids an alternative to their poor choices–to help a generation that is lost. This is my mission as the youth pastor at University Fellowship. I want to help support parents as they teach, model, and pray for their children. I want to be a resource and another voice for your teens. I want our church to be a safe haven for teens who find themselves without parents in the home. I look forward to sharing this journey of transition with you.
God bless and to all the teens: climb on,