When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee; which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois and in thy mother Eunice, and I am persuaded that in thee also. 2 Timothy 1:5
Spiritual leaders should always strive to view themselves as team members when it comes to impacting the lives of young people. At times the unwise youth leader will unknowingly alienate teenagers from other great influences in his life.
Timothy did not enjoy the privilege of having a Christian father; he was, however, blessed with a godly mother and grandmother. Paul did not view his role in Timothy’s life as one adversarial to the role of Timothy’s other spiritual leaders. In fact, he affirmed their influence and reminded Timothy of the importance of such positive leadership.
Youth pastors, teachers, and lay leaders need to understand that their ministry of mentorship in the lives of a young person represents one small segment of that teenager’s journey of faith. In so many of the lives of our young people, parents and grandparents have been laboring and praying and investing for many years before we ever get involved—and for many years after our involvement again diminishes. How foolish it would be for us, in the six or seven years they participate in our youth ministries, to alienate them from their primary leaders!
Youth leader, ask yourself these piercing questions:
1. Are your young people closer to their parents because of your influence?
Encourage them to communicate with Mom and Dad. Remind them that a best friend—or even a youth pastor–should not know more about a young person’s dreams and aspirations than a parent should. Encourage them to sit with their parents in church. Speak well of your teenager’s parents in their parents absence.
2. Do you endeavor to help young people understand the investments that godly parents make in the lives of their children?
Consistently remind the young people about the blessing (and rarity) of a good Christian home. Help them to understand the common financial sacrifice that Christian parents make to place teens in Christian schools, fund youth camps, and provide other spiritual opportunities.
3. Am I immaturely desirous of a teenager’s adulation? Do I have to be the “hero” in his life?
I must examine my heart often to make sure that the youth ministry is not about me, and that my efforts do not center on obtaining some short-lived thrill that I’m the “knight in shining armor” in some insecure teenager’s life.
4. Are the parents of the teens to whom I minister satisfied with the level of communication I currently maintain with them?
Relationships break down when communication lines are interrupted or broken. Suspicion mounts when talking stops. Strive to be proactive when it comes to communicating with parents. Communication is more than a phone call or text message that the bus will be late from the bowling activity! Parent/teen meetings should take place frequently, and formal meetings for the purpose of communication and training should be planned several times a year.
The Old Testament closes with an awful curse: it predicts that the relationship between children and parents (particularly fathers) will fall into serious spiritual disrepair. We certainly live in those predicted days. May God raise up many leaders like John the Baptist who, in the spirit and power of Elijah, turned the hearts of fathers to children and children to fathers!