We sit in a small room, just enough space for each of us to sit. It’s almost crowded, but they love it, and they love each other. It is amazing. Each person different yet they are building community with each other. They are caring for each other. This is love among my youth group. They are their own little posse, and this week we are going to use the adults to hopefully build community as a church, as a family in Christ. So this week let us learn to love the young people around us.
Just like any adult, a young person longs to be known, yet be loved, they long for community. So how can love the young people around you? Well here are 5 ways you can show love toward the children and youth around you.
- Be present! This is first and foremost the most important desire, even if they don’t know it. Spend time with them; let them know you are there. Ask them questions, join in on their favorite activities (even if you’re not good at it). Talk to them. Just spending time with them will help you build trust with them. Go to a movie, play a video game, or go out to dinner.
- Challenge them! Challenge them in different areas of their lives, but most importantly challenge them spiritually. Challenge them to live out their convictions, challenge them to have convictions. Let them ask questions even if you don't know the answers. Show them how to continue to learn. In college one of my teachers said, knowing the answer is good, but knowing how to find the answer is also important. Help them to learn and think on their own.Show them how to use the Bible to find answers and build convictions.
- Respect their opinions! Okay, young people will have different opinions than you. If you disagree don't just tell them their wrong; show them how you came up with your opinion. Just telling them they are wrong, isn't going to work. You need to show them, help them grow. (This is more important than you realize, with a world where truth seems to be fluid and ever changing, you need to help the youth to sort out their opinions. If they never agree with you, at least you have planted a seed that God will allow to grow.)
- Love the youth where they are. It doesn't matter if they are wrong, or in a bad situation. Love them despite this. Show them that you love them unconditionally. Like God loves us despite our issues, sins and failures. We should model God and love the youth around us despite their issues, sins, and failures. Guide them, but most importantly don't allow what they have done to affect how you approach and treat them. They need your love.
As an adult, I long for community. From my experience working with youth, they long for community as well. This is a tough world and young people need to be taught how to build a community. How to use that community to learn and respect each other. They need to be taught that truth does not change. To help reach young people you need to start by loving them.
How will you love the youth in your church and life today? Please don't stop loving the young people in your life after a week, they need you every day!