Friday, February 17, 2006
In the hustle and bustle of our lives, it can be easy to overlook a youth or two. I don’t mean we leave them in another state, but we leave them on their own. In 1 Thessalonians 2:11, Paul reminds us of how we should be looking after and caring for our youth. In verse 10, he says “you (the Thessalonians) witnessed how we behaved ourselves among you who believe”. He goes on to say how they exhorted, comforted, and charged every one of them as a father does his own children. It’s easy to look after our own children, but what about the children we don’t see or talk to everyday?
There are three things youth leaders should be doing for EVERY YOUTH. Notice the emphasis on EVERY YOUTH. EVERY YOUTH is emphasized because it was important enough to be in God’s Word (v.11 – “every one of you”). It is too easy to write off a youth. It could be because they live far away, aren’t that involved, don’t make a strong effort to be in a relationship, or are just plain annoying, but that is not an excuse. Paul sets the example by ministering to everyone.
Are you exhorting our youth? Webster’s defines exhort as give advice, warn, strongly urge or to make urgent appeal. While listening is important, we need to take a more active role in the lives of our youth. We should exhort them as they face trials and difficult situations. It is this type of direction that shows the youth we love them and care about their well-being (spiritually, physically, and emotionally).
We should also comfort our youth. There are two different aspects of comfort. One aspect is that of strengthening and giving hope. We should be walking along side our youth as they face life. Being beside them allows us to push them, put our arms around them, and help them carry on. Also, we need to set the example of hope. We put our hope in Christ and they need to see that so they understand hope is not a Sunday school concept, but a real desire and anticipation. The other aspect of comfort is that of easing grief or trouble. Sometimes, we need to simply be there. Between parental problems, school problems, relationship break-ups and sin issues, we need to be available to console our youth and help them work through those times with a Biblical focus.
Lastly, we should charge our youth. We should be discipling them into new levels of leadership and accountability. This is a long process, often beginning before they reach the youth group. We should push these young men and women to be leaders in their church, youth group, schools, families and friendships. The most difficult part about this is the commitment we must make to the lives of the youth.
Remember, we are doing this with the love of a father and through the love of the Father.