by Chris Abel, Youth Director
You may have noticed I’m growing out a beard. Yes, I know it’s pretty amazing, but in spite of this I keep getting strange comments from teens who say I look like “an old man” or like “a retired gladiator.” Interesting compliments, my friends….
I also know these things are said with a glint of mischief in their eyes and a smile on their faces. These are my students, and I know that our relationship is not antagonistic, but caring. I tease them, they tease me.
But even at 30 years old and with a beard, sometimes even I get treated like a child. And there is nothing quite as antagonizing as speaking to someone as if they were beneath you.
Teenagers understand this feeling, too. They’re slowly moving in-between childhood and adulthood, with the compounded problems of both. And sometimes we make the mistake of treating them like children. Even I make this mistake sometimes.
One of the most fascinating things Jesus did was gather apprentices as disciples. Apprentices in the first century would have been what we called “teenagers.” They were young. And Jesus believed in them and trained them and even called them friends.
So next time you have the urge to speak down to someone, remember that respect will build a relationship. Disdain will destroy it. Which will you choose?