Dear Students, This Is Your Time
For those who were born after 2000, this truly is an unparalleled season. Students, you are experiencing something you’ve probably only read or watched videos about: a global tragedy. You’ve heard about September 11 and about the murder of a famous leader. You’ve even heard about pandemics in history.
But actually seeing a worldwide crisis is no doubt bringing about new emotions in you. That’s okay. Be curious about those feelings and thoughts. Process them and talk about them. This is a unique and uncertain time for all generations, especially yours.
It is also a unique opportunity for you to shine. I have been convinced over the past several years that you are the generation that can change the world more than any other. You feel deeply, you care greatly, and have the ability to make an impact. I’ve seen it in you. I’ve seen you take your sin seriously, I’ve seen you seek help from counselors when you need it, I’ve seen you help those on the margins. You desire to leave your thumbprint on this world more than most generations before you. Now’s your chance! More often than not, you see an opportunity to make a difference and you take it without waiting for someone else to solve things. The chaos of COVID-19 is a time where you can step in to help.
Help the World in Their Weariness
The world is weary right now. No one knows what is going to happen. No one knows what is around the corner. The future is daunting for them. For most of you, this was your reality before COVID-19. You have been anxious about college, your future job, and all other unknowns in your life. You know what it is like to be weary and seek help. That means you have a unique ability to empathize with others’ struggles. You know what they are feeling.
- Show empathy with a weary world. You can care and listen to adults in a new way because of shared pain.
- Pray with your friends (and even with your parents). What a great way to serve others! FaceTime a friend to simply pray for them.
- Encourage people in your life to seek help through community and counseling. Help people in the way others have helped you. You don’t need to have all the answers, you can simply listen to them.
Help the World through Virtual Community
The world is tapping into technology in ways you’ve already been practicing. You know what virtual community is. And while it can’t take the place of us gathering in person, it is a way through which God can meet us.
Students, you know how to cultivate friendships without physical proximity. It is not simply hopping on a Zoom call or posting on social media. There is a learning curve on how to authentically share our lives through these platforms. Many adults in your own life aren’t quite as skilled as you are in this area. You have been loving one another in this way for years. You can help!
- Invite your friends to your Zoom Small Group
- Encourage and help your parents get into community via Zoom or other technology
- Share your spiritual journey in this season by sharing with friends and others about how God is working in your heart (no pressure to share everything!)
- Reach out to those on the margins—friends you used to interact with regularly could be struggling and you don’t know because haven’t seen them—and instead of waiting for them to reach out, “go” to them. In doing so, you might move the needle on their life.
To the Parents
Parents, I know you are reading this too. I have a few encouragements for you:
- Give your kids the keys to help you. Invite them to help you with relationships and even maybe your weariness.
- Process this together as family and co-heirs of Christ. Your child lives in your house, but that child is also your brother or sister if they are in Christ. God wants to use them to help you.
- Give them permission to make an impact. If there is a spark lit in the heart of your kids, your encouragement can be gasoline for their service.
This Is Your Time, Students
Okay, back to you, students. The typical message is that adults need to help teenagers. That’s true—you do need help from older people to speak into your life. Yet the message I want you to hear today is that we need you. We need your help. Our church needs your help. Our world needs your help. Please don’t sit on the sidelines and wait for all this to pass. This is your time. This is a moment for you to show the world what I already know to be true—yours is one of the greatest generations to step foot on this earth!
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I believe there is an underlying narrative surrounding the value of women that threatens the influencing and flourishing of women in the local church. Beginning to grasp that reality was a painful and confusing process for me. Sometimes this narrative shows up in the most heartbreaking of ways in the local church—like in stories of the devaluing and abuse of women in the church. Sometimes the narrative is less extremely represented through the absence of women in ministry. And sometimes, like in my case, I didn’t think this narrative applied to me at all because of the good ministry situation I was in.
Growing up in the church, I thought of my pastors as Supermen. I saw them as having an unachievable level of skill and godliness. I remember the folks in our church context thought the pastor was perfect. He didn’t take days off. He visited the sick at the hospital every day, and he never seemed to sin, at least not publicly. So, when I felt the call to ministry, I was overwhelmed by this bar of perfection. I knew myself, and I knew my sin. I thought, “I can never be like that!” or at least, “The people I serve in ministry can never know I sin so much.”
My all-time favorite movie is Forrest Gump. I am convinced it is the GOAT of movies. It teaches history and was on the cutting edge of cinema with a great plot line and amazing actors. One of the best scenes in the movie is when Forrest and Bubba were in Vietnam and they were packing through a downpour of rain for several days. They stopped one night to rest, and it was extremely muddy. Bubba says to Forrest, “I’m gonna lean up against you and you lean right back up against me. That way we don’t have to sleep with our heads in the mud.”
Imagine what Adam and Eve felt when they found out about Abel’s death. Can you imagine the shame? They knew their son had died, in part, because they had eaten the fruit of the tree. Their son was dead when in fact they should have been dead instead.