I am not sure when or where or how it began, but too long and too often young people have been given a bad rap. We all have heard it: “Teenagers are just hard to deal with. Teenagers will really mess up.” If you are a parent of a teenager you are told, “Get ready, they will be difficult.”
Do teenagers have problems? Yes, but so do adults. In fact, adults may have more problems than teenagers. No one ever says, “Well, watch out for those adults, they mess up. If you are an adult, you are going to have a hard time.”
Are teenagers inexperienced in life? Yes. I also have seen a lot of adults inexperienced in life as well. Seldom do we disparage an adult’s inexperience, so why do we chaff at the inexperience of teenagers?
In the Bible, there are some amazing young people that stand as an example of who young people can be. Joseph, who said, “How can I sin against my God?” Daniel, who refused to eat the king’s meat and drink the king’s drink. Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, who said, “We will not bow.” Esther, who was told, “Who knows whether you have come to this kingdom for such a time as this?” All these teenagers were model people.
What if we changed the narrative and told young people that they do many things right and can do many more? What if we told them they are examples of faith? What if we told them they can and will stand up for God and what is right? What if we told them they are precious, valued, and cherished? What if we encouraged them to succeed instead of prophesying their failure? What if, instead of calling them knotheads, we praise them for the way they carry the name of Christ? What if we just listened to them instead of putting up with them?
Young people are an example. They exemplify being faithful in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. They have hard challenges, but they try hard.
Young people are full of life. We need an infusion of their vivacity and excitement. When they come to study the Bible, they are lively and want to talk.
Young people are filled with idealism. They have not been jaded by life. They have hard experiences, but their idealism is refreshing. They do not give up.
When they do make mistakes, let’s lift them up. That is what we adults want. Even if the mistakes are life-changing or leave scars, we can help them heal. They need a hand out and a hand up, not a scalpel and a knife. They don’t need to hear, “Well, just what I thought you would do.” They need to hear, “I know you can and will do better and be better. I am going to help you.”
Love young people. Let’s tell them what they can be and help them grow.