Meet Jake and Nicole…two grown ups I had the privilege of knowing as teenagers. These high school sweethearts are now raising kids of their own, navigating the challenges of marriage, parenthood, careers, and all the things that smell so sweet as students…but really just stink of sweat, blood, and tears once you get there.
This week, Jake and Nicole passed through Corpus Christi (well, sort of….they actually detoured through Corpus) so we could have lunch together. It’s always such an honor to spend a few minutes wading through the adult lives of teenagers who kept the faith and are walking it well. And though their faithfulness to Him has everything to do with who they are and the investment made by their parents, there are a few things youth workers can do to help develop students who remain committed to Christ into their adulthood.
1. Give them space to ask questions….and wrestle out their own answers. (Even if those answers don’t always run parallel to your own.)
2. Create room for REAL friendships that thrive on accountability and challenge. (That means more than pizza, basketball, and Bible study.)
3, Affirm and bless what you see. (Your influence MUST go beyond a fist bump and stupid joke.)
4. Make opportunities to serve. (Both inside and outside your church – and then ask them about those opportunities.)
5. Underestimate your influence. (It’s always the work of the Holy Spirit that draws students into relationship with Himself!)
As we finished up our much-too-short visit, I thanked Jake for buying lunch. (They rarely do that when they’re teenagers!) He said something like “You paid for that meal years ago.”‘
No, Jake, those days were just redeemed by God – and I am beyond grateful that I just got to see God do His thing….