How would you feel if you were given everything that you asked for, even gifts that cost a lot? However, you were not given a valuable, free gift, that is a caring, listening ear.
The free gift that comes with strings
Today, young people are often pandered and catered to but not heard. They are driven by dreams of success, often not of their own making. The adults in their life overlay their dreams and passions on the young. These adults put their full weight behind young people accomplishing and fulling these. Could this be you? Be aware of these consequential results:
- Youth subconsciously adopt these dreams and passions as their own, then wonder why they feel unfilled even as they excel.
- Youth feel smothered and trapped by them and begin to under perform.
- Youth actively resent what feels like an intrusion and lack of care about their own dreams and passions and drop out.
In many ways, the attention and investment by adults in pursuit of these dreams and passions is a free gift—with strings attached. However, it shows an absence of the valuable free gift of a listening ear.
The issue of worth
In similar vein, young people are encouraged to engage in pastimes that are expected to secure their college scholarships. From an early age, they are pushed from activity to activity until they begin to wear busyness like a badge of honor. They come to believe that busyness gives them worth.
On the other hand, there are young people who face very limited opportunities in the midst of seemingly limitless opportunity for others. This creates a crisis of worth.
The free gift of listening
A great free gift that you can give to young people in an extraordinary youth ministry is listening. This is another aspect of an extraordinary youth ministry. Here is something you can do: Have a time when you allow their thoughts and questions to be the focus of your undivided attention. This is not effortless listening. Rather it is deep attentiveness to the what the young people say. It is a combination of hearing the nuances behind the words that are said, the words that are not said, the body language in the saying, and, therefore, the full meaning being conveyed.
Practice doing this type of listening whenever you speak with young people. In addition, set aside time regularly in your youth ministry to discuss questions and topics that are important to them, and listen. This will convey to young people that they are full of worth, more than many things that you do.
Furthermore, as you teach the faith and pray that young people come to the knowledge of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, leave space for their journey of discovery. Accept them where they are. Provide the tools and knowledge that will empower them to accept, and live out the faith with passion. Listen to their deep questions and doubts without judging. Follow Jesus Christ. Answer as you are able and as is appropriate, trusting and allowing the Holy Spirit to work. Isn’t that a great free gift?
Living fully. Living faithfully. Following Christ.
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