April 1, 2011
Looking back from the vantage point of time, my Junior High years were among the most difficult and confusing years of my life. My High School years were among the most determinative. Those early years of adolescence were critical years of transition physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually, as I tried to figure out who I was and what really ought to matter to me. Through high school, I made critical choices that have shaped the rest of my life. The Lord was gracious to me, giving godly parents who gave me roots and wings, significant influencers who modeled for me authentic Christianity, and important friends who walked alongside me. A recent study observed that “Bonding with a coach, mentor or other trusted adult can make a crucial difference in the way young people thrive in school and life.” I know the truth of that. Some were only a few years older than me, some much older. But I could trust them because they themselves were trusting in and living for the Lord Jesus.
The most important decisions I made in those years involved recognizing that Christian faith was not merely a family heritage; it was eternal truth. My most important commitment was to own Jesus as Lord and Savior, and to live under his lordship. He alone had the words of eternal life. That decision was made immeasurably easier because I saw the reality of Christ in others further along the road who were living authentic lives, exemplifying what I wanted to become, and investing in my life. Some were youth group leaders, others camp counselor, others caring people who chose to invest in me. They chose to love and put up with me (no small challenge). I am eternally grateful.
The external culture has changed drastically in the intervening years. Pressures have intensified, temptations multiplied, family systems weakened, alternative lifestyles proliferated, and accepted moral standards almost vanished. It is, in many ways, a hard time to be a kid. Never have effective student ministries been more important.
Our kids matter – to us and to the Lord. Pray for our kids and their friends. This is a time of life they are making life-shaping and eternity-deciding questions. Pray for and support our pastoral team, as they seek to provide authentic models and godly directions. Pray for our ministry staff teams, who complicate their already busy lives by choosing to be available to our kids at a critical time in their lives. This is the frontline of ministry, and need both protection from the evil one and empowerment from the Lord.
And encourage them. When I was in those years, I wasn’t usually wise enough to recognize the great gifts being given to me and to give thanks. Hopefully my parents did. Those who work with our kids should feel supported, encouraged and praised. Pastoring kids can be wonderfully rewarding, but very discouraging. Sadly, some of the discouragement comes from parents and adults who take things for granted, or who are quicker with criticism than with praise.
So hear this loud and clear Trinity Student Ministries team: WE THANK GOD FOR YOU. KEEP ON KEEPING ON, FOR HIS GLORY.