I have spent basically all of my adult life working with teenagers in some capacity. Sometimes that was Sunday school teacher. Sometimes it was camp staffer. Sometimes it was Bible study teacher, mentor, game player, worship leader, chaperon, discussion guider, host home mom, lock-in supervisor, homework helper, you name it. I love them.
I love how awkward they are in middle school and how they literally do not stop moving. Ever. What is that?
I love how they think they know everything one day and the next day the whole world is a blank slate again.
I love how they don’t know who they will be in five years but we see a glimpse of who they are becoming.
I love how dramatic they are. I really do. They are dramatic because everything is important to them. EVERYTHING is SUPER IMPORTANT! Like, OMG…
I love getting text/Facebook messages from them where I have to enlist google to decipher what all the abbreviations mean…IDK what UR talking about…
Though I love them, I’ll be the first one to admit that I feel like an unlikely candidate for student ministry. Suffice it to say, I am not cool. No, in fact, I am pretty much the opposite of cool. I am not loud or crazy. I don’t giggle, I’m not silly. I dress pretty conservatively and am fairly reserved most of the time. My almost one year old goes to bed at 8:00 on the dot so my idea of “night life” is pretty much limited to Netflix or a good book. And I am perfectly ok with that. I despise a good 95% of what is deemed “popular” music.
Not only am I not cool, I’m a rule enforcer. I’m the chaperon that knocks on your door at 6:45 a.m. to make sure you are awake and will make it to breakfast on time. I make you drink water and eat vegetables at camp. I don’t let you go back for a second bowl of ice cream. I will shush you.
I never make the mistake of thinking I’m cool and that’s why teenagers would want to hang out with me. So why would they? Because I’m an adult. And they need adults. They need their parents, first and foremost. But even when their parents are godly and loving, they still need other adults. They need people who will love them the way Christ loves them. They need to see what it looks like to live out your faith in your 20’s, 30’s, 40’s and so on. They need to see that a relationship with Christ extends far beyond the four walls of the church on Wednesday night. They need someone that listens. They need someone that prays.
They don’t necessarily need a buddy. They have plenty of friends speaking all kinds of messages into their lives every day. They don’t need more of that. They need an adult who will speak truth to them. And who will listen. And who will love them and value them. That’s why it’s ok that I’m not cool. I don’t need to be. That’s not my role. My role is to model a life fully lived for Christ and the Gospel and to spur them on to do the same.