Posts Tagged ‘teens’

My taste in movies is pretty eclectic, but I’m a big fan of the Disney movie, Iron Will. There is a scene at the end of the movie that really inspires me and reminds me what a huge impact those who surround us, who believe in us and who are cheering us on have in our lives. I am reminded of “the great cloud of witnesses” mentioned in Scripture – those saints that have gone before us and I believe are cheering us on.

Last Sunday I had separate moments as a dad and a youth pastor that inspired me anew to be a passionate cheerleader for every person I can to run well and to finish strong. If you are interested, read on.

Preaching on Sunday I looked into the audience wondering if my children would be there. I hadn’t asked them to be. I hadn’t even thought of it until I sat down. But I was excited to be bringing the Word and couldn’t help but wonder. After all, there were two services offered that hour. And they had heard me preach dozens and dozens of times before. Why would they come?

Our executive minister was up before me and she complimented my family in her remarks and had each of the four who were in Tulsa stand. They were all there – and so were others. My eldest was there with her husband. A boyfriend had driven from Stillwater to hear me. Good family friends had come across town, missing attending their own service to sit with my family. A young adult from a former youth group was there. Other friends who normally attend a different service were there. It caught me by surprise, but I found myself so encouraged. I was humbled and grateful that my family and friends had changed their routine to say with their actions, “I believe in you!”

After the services, we had a leaders meeting for all those with whom we partner in youth ministry. As I looked across the room and saw table after table of young adults to aging Boomers who have invested themselves in the lives of teens, I was moved. Surrounding our youth were these adults who love them, who support them, who call them to walk with Jesus, and who run the race with them focusing their eyes on the finish line. Weekly, even daily, this group of men and women proves by their actions to our young people “I believe in you!”

That afternoon I went to the baptism of two young men. Friends, church members, other disciples surrounded the pool as these two proclaimed their turning from sin and their trust in Jesus. Those surrounding the young men called out words of affirmation and promises to continue to walk with them. Their attendance said “I believe in you” and their words echoed “I will be there for you.” I knew…and so did they…that there would be days (like in the story of Iron Will) where we would need each other for the strenght to take the next step, to persevere, to move toward the finish line.

Who are you surrounding? Who are you cheering on? Who have you told this week with your actions “i believe in you!” And who were some of those who were there for you?

Parents are ‘the architects of the family’; they are in a position and have the power to reshape the atmosphere and reestablish the trust.” (Clinebell quoted in Peterson, p 49)

Peterson asks “What kind of trust relationship do you have with God? Do you trust Him? Does He trust you? How do you show your trust for Him? How does He treat you?” Those are great questions, but unless our answers are informed by Scripture revealing that nature and character of God, our answers may only be reinforcing bad theology.

Here’s a hint about God’s modus operandi: Who did He trust with evangelizing the world…with making disciples of all nations? Here are a few more: Who did God trust with leading his people out of Egypt? With rescuing the spies in Jericho? With being the first King of Israel?

We are both teachers and learners of trust – as disciples we are learners, as parents we are teachers. And we teach best when we teach what we have experienced from our Heavenly Father, not from our environment in this broken and sinful world. Do you remember what it was like at the beginning….Were you trustworthy? I may not know you well reader, but I am confident of the answer. You were no more trustworthy than I….and I was a sinner. “God shows His love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

Peterson claims that in “matters that are at the very core of our existence, we learn through demonstration, by having truth done to and for us. The One who is the very embodiment of Truth revealed what we could not know on our own. That Truth is self-sacrificial love. And so “we love because he first loved us.” (I John 4:19)

But what happens if we try to play it safe…if we choose not to risk….not to love…not to trust? According to Peterson, “if parents refuse to trust until their children prove that they are worthy of being trusted, trust will simply not develop.” (p. 50)

Mom and Dad, friend of teens…those kids you and I love will have a shot at learning to receive the love and trust of God as we model it for them. How does that square with good stewardship? I think we need someone to articulate a good theology of risk….anyone up for it? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

(This post is inspired by chapter 6 of Like Dew Your Youth: Growing Up With Your Teenager by Eugene Peterson. Get a copy of this great little book and check back each Thursday for the next 7 weeks to become part of the discussion).

 “Every generation imagines itself to be more intelligent than the one that went before it, and wiser than the one that comes after it.”       George Orwell

What if the much-maligned “generation gap” were a gift instead of a curse? What if every age had gifts and graces and unique abilities that would go unseen without the catalyst of another generation to bring them to full maturity? What if wrestling through the differences between the ages were not only part of their discipleship, but our own?

Peterson encourages us to look at Joel 2:28 and I John 2:13. What differences do the Biblical authors highlight? Can we draw any implications from this?

Avoiding the ditch of abdication, self-deprecation and withdrawal, while conversely avoiding the ditch of pontification and bluster, those of us who are older are challenged to accept our calling as adults in this time and place in history.

What does that mean? For one thing, it means coming to terms with intimacy. We have had the opportunity to move past the self-doubt and uncertainty of adolescence. We have had the opportunity to risk being vulnerable and to become genuinely close with another. One of the great questions of adolescence is one of belonging and intimacy. Who loves me/who do I love? “The parent generation has the obligation first to achieve and then to demonstrate intimacy – to show that it is possible and to show what it looks like.” (p.43)

My experience in youth ministry in a rapidly changing culture tells me that this issue is one of the great obstacles to successfully reaching adolescents. We as adults often have no idea of what true intimacy is and therefore are unable to model it. Is that too harsh an indictment? Where have you seen true intimacy modeled in a way that is winsome to all ages? How do you reach across the “generation gap?”

My apologies for the late update this week.

(This post is inspired by chapter 5 of Like Dew Your Youth: Growing Up With Your Teenager by Eugene Peterson. Get a copy of this great little book and check back each Thursday for the next 7 weeks to become part of the discussion).

Love is…

Posted: February 14, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

It’s been said that love to a teen is spelled “T…I….M….E”

No question about that being true. What else have you found to be helpful in communicating love to teens?