Today’s youth is leading the way
By Pastor Brad Gill
It is said that students are the leaders of tomorrow. However, the truth is that teenagers have more influence in society today than ever before. If we say that leadership is influence, then teenagers are leading the way right now.
Teenagers influence what people are wearing, how corporations make commercials, what is popular in music, and even how we talk. From the perspective of influence, teenagers are leading the way of American culture.
The problem is that our culture is spiritually bankrupt of godly character. Teens need parents, mentors and ministers to come alongside them. This is the time for adults to help students foster biblical character.
As a parent of teenagers and as a student minister, I am around youth all the time. Sometimes I take that for granted, but I really enjoy this stage of life.
Teens are having fun, feeling awkward, finding their place in the world, looking for independence, and just growing up. It’s the most critical time of anyone’s life.
I decided to reevaluate how I can spend my time with teenagers. Here are some things I want focus on in order to really invest in teenagers.
- Get them talking. If you have a teenage son who usually talks in monosyllabic utterances, you just want him to form a complete sentence every now and then. If you have the stereotypical teenage girl, you might want the opposite!
Regardless of the situation you are in, talk to your son. Sit down with your daughter. Look for ways to foster communication. When they start talking, try not to stop them by opening your mouth. Open your ears instead.
- Get them reading their own Bible on their own. I always encourage students to own their faith. Just because they grow up in a Christian home, does not mean they are a Christian. When they start trusting God with all their heart and seeking Him in all their decisions, then their faith is their own.
They’ve got to interact with the Bible for answers, direction and transformation. If we can get students talking (#1) about what God is teaching them (#2), we will get below the surface to the deeper issues and their real struggles.
- Encourage a well-rounded life. I want to challenge students to do their best in a variety of areas, and the teen years are a great time to develop a strong foundation. Ask students what areas mentioned below they would like to develop and then let them set goals and track progress.
(a) Spiritual – How am I developing my relationship with Christ?
(b) Mental – How am I becoming a strong student?
(c) Emotional – How am I handling the ups and downs of life?
(d) Physical – How can I stay fit and feel the best?
(e) Social – How can I be a good friend?
4. Zero in on strengths. While developing a well-balanced life has tremendous advantages, no one can be good at everything. Help them find what they love and let them succeed in that area. It’s important to keep working on foundational areas but not at the sacrifice of personal strengths.
5. Start leading now. One of the highlights of ministry over the years has been the times when students have taken the initiative and led others. Instead of merely attending a youth service, going to a Bible study, or finding a Friday night fellowship, students can participate in much greater ways. When teens take their faith seriously and see their potential, they can lead right now.
Brad Gill is in the youth pastor at
First Baptist Church in Lafayette.