Our Youth today (those aged 12-21) live in a world vastly different from the generation that precedes them. For example, their priorities often include enjoyment and expression, while those before them prioritise survival and nation-building. They live in a world of constant change and failure to adapt and multi-task means that they will be left behind! Our current culture saturates us with a fast, furious and endless supply of options – Give me MORE! Give me NEW! Give me NOW! Give me… ME!! And this is the reality that our youth grow up in; they know little else. Personally, what’s of greatest concern is how the values of yesteryear (values which tend to be Judeo-Christian in nature) are now deemed as “backward”. Youth are often unconsciously indoctrinated that their personal morality and values in life should lean towards being more secular, situational and relativistic.
All of this has led Dr Chapman Clark, Professor of Youth, Family and Culture at Fuller Theological Seminary, to describe Youth of today as the “most stressed generation”. He commented that a youth can never learn patience, delayed gratification and self-denial (key principles in Christian living) if he/she is totally immersed in the culture and world of today.
Through his ministry and research, Dr Clark found that for a youth to transit into an emotionally and spiritually healthy adult, he/she needs five adults who are willing to model Christ for them – to form a relationship free of judgement and a “fix-them” attitude; a relationship that is based on unconditional love, empathy and patience.
Paul’s pastoral letter to Titus contains an exhortation for both the mature and the young. And in that exhortation, he urged the mature to be a model of good works for those who are younger, to exemplify self-control – the very quality that our youth of today so desperately need in their discipleship walk.
“Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behaviour… and so train the younger women… to be self-controlled, pure…. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works” (Titus 2:1-7)
Dear brothers-and-sisters in Christ, we are ALL fellow runners in this journey of discipleship and today, more than ever, our youth need older men and women who are willing to come alongside to navigate with them (not for them) through the turbulence of 21st century adolescence. Youth have A LOT to learn from those older than them… even if they don’t seem to realise it themselves. Would you be willing to model Christ for them, be patient with them and reach out to their hearts by laughing and crying alongside them?
Will you be willing to be ONE of the FIVE? P.S. If the Lord is convicting you to serve in the Youth ministry, please speak to me personally or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Adrian Ow, Pastoral Staff (YCKC Bulletin 5&6 July 2014)