My experience in children’s and youth ministry, not just memorizing and meditating on the Word but the people who served and built into my life and showed me how to follow Jesus Christ in real life, are a very significant reason why I am standing here in front of you this morning, getting ready to preach the Word of God.
I don’t remember much from the lessons and sermons (sorry Sarge and Pastor Michael!) we had, but I do remember the impact of the people.
1 Timothy 4:12 NLT Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity.
The challenge of this message for those under 30 is to ASK for HELP. How can we ask?
- Allow others in — this might be the hardest part to do, especially when we’re talking about letting older adults in. You might think they won’t understand, won’t get it, will make fun, will judge, will just give advice… but give them a chance. Allow others in. It can change everything.
- Set an example — the decisions you make today matter because the decisions you make today will determine who you become tomorrow. What you watch and listen to today will impact your tomorrow. Who you choose as friends will impact and form who you become tomorrow. Set an example in the way you love like Christ, the way you speak, the way you act, the way you are trustworthy. Set an example.
- Keep moving forward — You are going to mess up and you are going to fail. Life will be hard. Sometimes it will get easier, sometimes it will get harder. People will come and go in your life. Keep moving forward, persevere, and don’t give up. The Christian life is a marathon, not a sprint. Keep moving forward and don’t give up.
Those over the age of 30, if we are encouraging those under 30 to ASK, your challenge is to HELP. The influence of adults in the lives of young people is something we often overlook, but the impact reverberates across eternity. How can you HELP?
- Hold on — It’s going to be a bumpy, twisting, turning ride; we are talking about teenagers and emerging adults after all. Life changes quickly and unexpectedly. Hold on. I didn’t mention at the beginning that through children’s and youth ministry I was not the easiest kid to teach. I was the mischievous one who was always getting into trouble. But my leaders loved me, cared about me, and held on even when I wasn’t the easiest to lead. They didn’t give up on me. Even the disciples were difficult to deal with sometimes. They didn’t always understand, didn’t get it, and failed decently often. Hold on.
- Enter in — Do life with young people and let them know you care. Don’t just be on the outskirts talking about or complaining about the younger generations, but invest and enter in to their lives. Go to games and competitions, invite over for holidays, celebrate birthdays.
- Love unconditionally — Once you enter in, nothing should move you out. Love unconditionally. I was a difficult kid and I needed people who unconditionally loved and pursued me. This means when someone younger you’re doing life with messes up, you don’t smack them upside the head and remind them that was a stupid decision. You lovingly walk alongside them through it. Maybe that means you’re only listening, maybe giving advice when asked, but always praying. Always praying. Always praying. Love unconditionally and be consistent to show up. There are enough people moving in and out of young people’s lives and being unreliable; don’t let that be you.
- Point upward — Jesus Christ must be the center of it all. We have to point up to Him always. We can’t love others unconditionally without first pursuing Jesus ourselves and experience His unconditional love for us. We can’t hold on or enter in until we understand how Jesus held on and entered in for us. As we do life with young people, we need to show Jesus Christ through in our responses, advice, listening, interactions, and purpose behind HELPing. Always point toward Jesus Christ.