Youth in Focus

Discipling youths All that really matters is relationship

May 2011    

I WAS IN MY CAR and heard about a DJ interviewing an expert on how to excel in an appraisal meeting. Most of us are employed and being appraised is part and parcel of being employed. I would imagine that appraisals are highly stressful affairs. I picture myself sitting in a room at a table, facing a group of reviewers who would then review and appraise my performance which would then determine my pay and future job prospects. Not a pretty sight. Now imagine this, if you are in the ministry of discipling youths, or if you are serving in the Youth Ministry.

Have you wondered what it would feel like to be appraised by the very youths you minister to? How will you do? How will you fare? Were you “up” to it? Were you “hip” enough for them? Were you “cool” enough for them? Do you speak their lingo?

Do you play the PC games they play? Will you do well in the appraisal?

One thing I have learnt about discipling youths is that it is really not about the skills sets, or the level of fashion consciousness or the “cool” factor which matters. What matters is more than just skin deep. It goes deeper than that. It goes right to the heart because it is really about relationships Youths these days are very discerning and they have also become more cynical and critical because they are so much more educated, connected and well informed. And to make matters worse, most of the adults in their lives are either paid to be there (think…teachers or youth workers) or are required to be there (think…parents or pastors). Thus, when someone has something to tell them, they can easily decipher if it comes from the heart or if it comes from the fact that he/she has to do it for the sake of it.

When it comes to discipling youths, really all that matters is relationship. Youths appreciate it a lot when someone truly cares for them. It makes a lot of difference to a youth when an adult goes beyond just getting them to be orderly in a classroom. They do not need someone to nag at them or to constantly bark orders at them.

WHAT BUILDS YOUTH DISCIPLES

“It is about loving one another as Jesus loved us. And remember, love goes both ways. Love them and they will love you.”

It is about remembering their names, knowing which schools they are in, asking how they are after a break-up, asking if they need help in their Maths, or offering them a prayer. It is the simple things that matter and it is about being interested about them as individuals. It is about seeing them through Jesus’ eyes and loving them with the heart of Christ.

It is also about a sharing of lives and a journey of discipleship together. Imagine the impact on a youth’s life when we (as adults) ask them to pray for us over a certain matter which could be troubling us. As we genuinely open ourselves up, they will see that they could also play a part in our lives.

And when that happens, we would then have earned the “right” to pour the truth into their lives. Truths which we have been trying to pour into their lives in the one-hour Sunday School lessons or sermons. Of course they can learn some truths through these means but if we really want to build disciples and impact their lives with truths, we must then work towards building strong relationships with them.

Therefore, discipling youths is not about things like being “cooler”, getting a new haircut or fashionable dressing. These things don’t build disciples. What builds youth disciples is when we go knee to knee with them in prayer and offer all that we are to them. It is about loving one another as Jesus loved us. And remember, love goes both ways. Love them and they will love you.

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