Working with Teenagers and College students sharpens my spiritual development. They have the ability to smell a fake in less than 2.5 seconds, and let me assure you, there's not a lot of forgiveness. Once they taste a morsel of disingenuous relationship, they're ready to move on to something/someone else who can relay a life of truth. Honesty in it's purest form, you have to live what you say, or you don't stand a chance talking to this generation.
Really, this is the reason why I love working with young people. For all the insecurities, all the misunderstanding, and all the silly youth group stuff, the brutal way they challenge me to live a life full of the gospel is inspiring. It moves me to be on my game, work diligently to find ways they can understand spiritual development, and humbly admit those times when my own spiritual life fails me.
If I've learned anything over the last 15 years working with young adults it's this: They don't care how much you know, how many degrees you have, or even how much you can teach them.
What they really care about is how much you care for them. They're longing for someone to just say, "you're gonna be alright" and then (and only then) do I recognize the opportunity to help coach and train spiritual development.
If you don't care for them, you never have an opportunity to share more compelling spiritual concepts.
Strange thing is, adults aren't any different.
No matter what phase of life we're in, we all want to look out into the wide wide world and see someone who is willing to say 'I care about you' without any notion a patronization. I'm talking about REALLY caring for people.
Don't tell me it's going to be ok if it's not.
Don't tell me God cares for me if I don't realize it in my own life.
Don't give me your charity, I'm a person not a spiritual project.
I've found, If you want to preach from the pulpit without any concern for them as human, you might as well be preaching to the tree out in the front yard. Nobody wants to hear someone piously tell them how RIGHT they are and how WRONG someone else is. All be it true there are certainly right and wrong principles, in the case of showing people God's truth, there's no paradigm to embrace a lustful need to be right.
You have to work with people where they are, not where they need to be.
You can't enter a friendship with someone as you stand on the throne of pride.
Some us us need to back up and re-examined the way we live our own lives in the public sphere.
Maybe we need not "STAND UP" for what is right, as much as we take a long look at someone's life that needs to understand God's love.
Sure it feels good to win a fight.
It makes us all think we're on the right train when the world spins our way.
But remember, the world isn't supposed to spin our way.
The revolution of redemption isn't about walking a road where people like you, accept you, or give you the rights you feel like you deserve.
There's just no place for that in God's Kingdom.
In God's Kingdom we have to be very careful to know, "For everything in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life--comes not from the Father but from the world." (1 John 2:16)
Even when you're fighting for something that's seemingly 'right,' sometimes it's not the destination that is important but the journey it takes to get you there.
Be careful to think about those around you and 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'