One of the highlights of my travels to youth conferences and youth camps is the opportunity to spend time with so many other adults who love teenagers. Fundamentalism is full of unsung heroes who drive buses, chaperone trips, sacrifice time, pour out their lives, listen with concern, and pray with passion—all for the benefit of the teenagers whom they love so dearly.
Along with the messages I preach to the teenagers, I have the privilege, in many meetings, to teach training sessions to the youth leaders themselves. I thought I would share with you some of the notes I teach at those meetings.
Transforming a teen into a Timothy
Fundamentalism is full of well-intentioned youth leaders who desire their teenagers to be something significant for God. But good intentions alone do not produce godly teens. Paul developed a young man named Timothy to be someone great for God. We can develop our teens in the same biblical ways by which Paul did.
Each one of the following thoughts is an application of the verse listed after it from 2 Timothy chapter one. The thought behind this outline is that Paul, even at the brink of his departure from this world, is continuing to develop young Timothy to be all that he can be for the Lord. Having mentored young Timothy during the course of the second missionary journey, and having spent almost three years with him at Ephesus in the establishment of local churches there, Paul remains passionate in his desire to mold Timothy into the soldier of the cross that God intended for him to be.
Consider the first practical way by which we may mentor young men as Paul did:
Recognize your own unique call of God and then determine to embody a life of biblical priority (v. 1).
"Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus."
Obviously, the human author of this epistle is the Apostle Paul, and the human recipient is Timothy. Why then would Paul introduce himself so specifically to a man who knew him so well? From a theological perspective we certainly know that the epistle was intended for many more people than just Timothy, including you and me. But from a human perspective, Paul is affirming his own unique call of God and reminding Timothy of his unfailing commitment to God’s purpose in his life in spite of the inhumane treatment he is receiving at the hands of the anti-Christian, Nero-led Roman regime.
Youth leaders who do not have a sense of calling to work with youth, or who do not ardently pursue a life of biblical priority are ill-equipped to be leaders of young people. Quite simply, we cannot lead people to be what we are not, nor can we effectively lead people to do what we refuse to do ourselves.
Too many churches adopt the unwise philosophy of placing younger Christians in the youth ministry. After all, new Christians have zeal and zest. What better qualities exist for impacting the lives of young people? The problem is that teenagers need to be mentored by those who have the God-given sense that they are called to lead young people, and the maturity requisite to lead them properly and consistently.
If you are a mother or father of a teenager, take a moment even now to affirm that you have been called of God to mentor the lives of your teens. If you are a youth leader in your local church, assess God’s leading in your life and determine if He has called you to be a mentor of young people. If He has, embrace that call and confidently lead those whom God has given you!
(This article was first published at Kurt Skelly.com)