I love when our church's youth pastor speaks on Sunday mornings because you can always tell exactly where his heart lies: with our students, teenagers and kids. It is an age bracket extremely close to my heart and I love being a part of a church that values them too.
That being said, I was convicted by Pastor Josh's message - I don't always view my weekly volunteering with the children in our church as positively as I should. To be honest, some Sundays all I want to do is get through an hour without having boogers smeared on my jeans and without having to wash my hands an innumerable number of times after changing too many dirty diapers. FYI - I work with 2-year-olds not the high school students! Some Sundays my attitude sucks about serving, giving up my time to spend with these little guys...and it shouldn't.
I've always enjoyed spending time with kids, have adamantly stated how much I value them and am easily angered when our society brushes off their opinions and upbringing as some type of burden. Yet, am I always consistent with my actions?
Josh's message focused on how we as a generation can take steps to guide the generation growing up behind us to be counter-cultural, a generation of change. One of his points really resonated with me and made me smile. I have said for years that kids have a seriously accurate bull**** meter. They know when you're lying or trying to pull something over on them. I should know, I was absolutely one of those kids. The most valuable thing you can do when spending time with kids, whether they are 3 or 16, is to be honest. Trying to "sell" them on an oversimplified version of Christianity that isn't accurate isn't going to cut it and all it will do is cause them to trust you and what you believe even less.
Another point he made that hit home is that our culture has set the bar of expectation so low for this generation. All the media and cultural influences are really asking our young people is to go to school, not get arrested and live up to the status quo. What happened to passion? What happened to making a difference? What happened to actively living what you believe? Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I don't know kids who break that mindset, but unfortunately I see and know many more who don't.
As someone who will (hopefully) have kids of my own in the next 5 years, some of the statistics Josh was relaying freaked me out. The percentage of kids who spend time actually talking with their parents for more than 10 minutes a day is staggeringly low. The number of parents who are actively involved in their student's day-to-day school lives is another ridiculously low statistic...it crushes and convicts me at the same time about my attitude and actions toward this younger generation growing up in our world, not to mention the way my husband and I plan to parent our future kids.
I'm not a parent, I am blessed to be an aunt to 4 beautiful girls and 3 energy-packed boys and I love them like crazy. Even not being a parent myself, Josh's message really woke me up to just how much of a positive influence I can have on them by exerting more effort as they get older. On the other hand, what he said also reminded me of the harsh reality that I can have an overwhelmingly negative impact on them without even trying or being aware of my actions.
Josh's final challenge to us as a church was to be a generation to stand in the gap, being the ones to guide this generation coming up behind us to a real relationship with their God - to not let them slip through the cracks unnoticed. They deserve better. When I was in high school, I know full well I would have been one of those kids slipping away if it hadn't been through the amazing mentors I had to guide me, ask me tough questions and help me grow into an adult who knew what I believed. I was one of the lucky ones and having that background should make me that much more intent on being that type of mentor to the kids in my life who I love and spend time with.
If you want to check out Josh's entire message (and I hope you will - its a great one), just follow this link to the video: http://orbc.net/sermons and it will be at the top of the list on the page and titled, "To Reach The Next Generation".