Friday, June 24, 2011

Please do as I teach...not as I've done.

I don't think it's a secret I have a passion to minister to young people. To be honest, that's what really got me started into blogging a few years back. After fooling around with a website call Stick with Jesus for about a year, I realized that I was technically in over my head and stepped back to focus on a smaller, more localized scale.

God put me where He needed me. For about a year and a half, I've been teaching a college-aged Sunday School class at church. It's a group that extends past the 10 or so that attend regularly on Sunday mornings to a number around 25 that I maintain regular contact with each week. Perfect situation.

My passion for this group is born from a period of falling from the path at their very age in my own life. Sadly, that is the norm and not the exception. Statistic show that over 70% of young people will leave the church before the age of 23. That's an absolutely heartbreaking statistic for any Christian, but I know from personal experience just how devastating being in that statistic is for the young person who falls. Loneliness. Fear. Anxiety. Joylessness. It's all there. Worse yet...those states lead to depression, alcohol and drug use, promiscuity and denial.

I'm going to get real personal for just a minute. I cry for these 25 young people I feel God has charged me with...on a daily basis. I cry, pray, plead with Him to spare them pain, text, Facebook message, tweet, Heytell, call and pray some more. Daily. I constantly walk a fine line between being available and being intrusive. Concerned and not condescending. Loving and not judgmental.

I have my own teenager about to enter the statistical danger zone in a few short years. She's a great kid with a lousy sense of choice-making from time to time. Just like I was at her age. God has charged me as a father to provide a pious example to my be a leader. But I know in my heart it will take more. My mother is a godly women who, without a doubt, spent countless hours praying for her black sheep. I'm very thankful for that fact, but I know it so often takes more.

Young people need mentors. Someone to take an active interest in their life for no other reason than the love of Jesus. Mom and dad love you because...well...they're mom and dad. But a person outside the family is a completely different component in helping keep up a young person's self-esteem and focus on the business of the Kingdom. The big picture stuff that truly matters on an eternal scale.

Naturally, I would love for my circle of influence to expand beyond a few dozen at a time, but that is not for me to decide. Maybe God has a single young person in His plan for me that through my efforts of shining His light...that young person comes to know Him much closer. To go on and make a difference for the Kingdom. The thought brings tears to my eyes and fills my heart with a great joy.

Until I hear otherwise for Him though, I'm going to treat each and every young person in my charge as potentially that one, single soul. Please remember our young people in your prayers today.  


Andrea York said...

I have to admit that when you wrote, "stick with Jesus" my first mental picture was Jesus on a pogo stick, bouncing around.

Your post is very touching - makes me realize that I need to have more 20-somethings in my life.

What you are doing with those young people is very powerful, keep on loving them and showing your faith.

I truly believe that many young people leave the church because they don't see that it matters much to their parents generation. Sure they go to church but there isn't a lot of fruit. Young people want to see real change and love in action. Good for you!

Heavy D said...

You are a great example for those young people. I hope they see and know that.
As you know my own daughter is in the "danger" range. I'm just glad she has you and your wife to guide her as that outside influence.

David-FireAndGrace said...

I love young people too. In fact the old people bore me. ;)

You are a good man, Tony C. It is nice to see you right where God is using you - but quit crying OK? It's not manly enough. ;)

Keith said...

Very nice! You are making an eternal difference. It doesn't get bigger than that

Tracy said...

It's so cool to read your words here; during the time I've "known" you I've repeatedly seen your heat toward this age group. You're spot on about young people needing a mentor; I've had two mentors (years apart) during my life and will always be grateful for God's blessing through both of them. I believe that people with a heart like yours, doing what you're doing, is keeping this age group connected to the local body of Christ, one person at a time.