Sunday, January 14, 2007

Understanding Adolesence

Adolescence as it is understood today is relatively new. Of course the word "understand" may be a little presumptuous. Adolescence has changed over the centuries, especially in North America. It is not only confusing for those who are going through it, but their parents, their friends, and for youth leaders.

Over the past 150 years adolescence has begun at an earlier age and ended at a later age. Boyfriends, girlfriends, and dating have taken on a new meaning (not that any of us know exactly what that meaning is). The only thing we know about cool is some have it and some don't of course that seems to change on an almost daily basis.

The question becomes how do we help students navigate this difficult time? Teaching about abstinence, peer pressure, and being willing to go against the grain are all good things. Still there may be a more simple and effective way to help these student. Perhaps instead of telling them what they should and shouldn't do we should give them an anchor.

Jesus Christ is the anchor. Students who stay attached to the anchor will never wonder too far away. Hebrews 12:1-2 says, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily hinders our progress. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish."

As leaders who work with youth we must not forget that the best thing we have to offer is not our wisdom about sex, drugs, or avoiding the peer pressure . The best thing we have to offer is Christ himself, the gospel story. If we remember this we will do well, if we get sidetracked (which is easy to do) we will not be serving the best interests of the students or the kingdom of God. We need to stay focused.

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