Leadership qualities like being humble, hopeful and vocal leave a lasting impact. Before you read any further, take one minute and think about 3-5 memories from your life that deeply shaped you to be who you are today. What were they? When did they happen?
This probably won’t surprise you, but recent adolescent research affirms:
Nearly everyone recalls adolescence more powerfully than any other stage of life (Age of Opportunity by Laurence Steinberg).
Why is that true about adolescence (ages 13-25 or so)? One of the reasons people have so many shaping memories from adolescence is that the brain’s last period of heightened malleability is during adolescence (Steinberg, 10). Because this is the last window of opportunity for the brain to be so radically shaped, we tend to remember things that we experienced from that stage of life. Here’s how you can make sure to leave a lasting impact in the lives of the students you are investing in…
As a youthworker or parent, to give hope and solace to teenagers, we need to tell them how to find peace. The world has questions. The Bible has answers. Students, ages 13-25 in particular are beginning to shift from a totally concrete view of the world to a more abstract perspective.
This means that adolescence is a time where we begin to process our environment and relationships by asking lots of questions. Most of these questions go unspoken, but they are there if you dig for them.
Five trends in youth ministry point to a perfect storm on the horizon
The trends I’m referring to are:
1. Youth culture is more fragmented than ever before. (Why? Because families are breaking down, young people are more fragile, broken, and have greater needs.)
2. You need more youth leaders today to reach fewer young people.
3. Volunteerism is decreasing.
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing! -Galatians 2:20-21
Our faith muscles are strengthened as we meditate on the grace of God, not on his impossible standards.
Can you imagine ever saying to someone that “Christ died for nothing!”? Yet the Apostle Paul says that in our actions and in our beliefs we may as well be saying that out loud. That is really convicting. I think leaders in particular sometimes get baited by performance, goals and expectations put on them and fall into this trap of trying to live up to impossible standards.
The good news of Jesus Christ is that you are loved.
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” –Romans 5:8
Jesus loves us not because we are these incredibly loveable fur balls who deserve his love. He loves us in a much deeper profound way than that. Jesus knows we are made from dust. He knows that we can’t possibly fathom how great and worthy he is of our awe and worship. He understands that we were all born of the seed of Adam which means in our own strength we have no chance of ever being completely pure. He knows how broken and frail we are even though we put on all sorts of prideful masks and crutches of victimization. And in the midst of all of that, when he was on the cross, paving a path for us sinners to cross over from death to life, he cried out to the Father in our defense:
Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. –Luke 23:34
WE NEED DAILY REMINDERS WE ARE LOVED
Most of us need daily reminders that we are loved so much. Without Gospel reminders we become jaded, cowardly, judgmental, and self-protective. And when we sway from feeling loved our ability to reflect the Light of Jesus’ love to others dims and dims and dims…
I recently had the privilege of sharing the Gospel with a young man in a foreign country who grew up in a family that taught that the way to God is only through believing the message of a different book than the Bible. After sharing the Gospel with him for a couple of hours I pleaded with him to take my Bible read the story of Jesus for himself to see how different his story is from this other religious book.
Although he listened intently to everything that I told him about Jesus and seemed to want to believe it… he would not accept my Bible because he said that his father would disown him or kill him if he came home with it. This is where my mind went: