By Keith Lee, Associate Pastor
I want to thank all the youth, Anthony, Bella, Christine, Conner, Daniel, Jack, James, Landon, Leah, Lizzy, Logan, William and Zav and the chaperons, Joy and Michelle, for the wonderful time at King’s Dominion July 16. Not only it was one of the most enjoyable youth trips I’ve experienced, but I wasn’t made fun of for not riding the ‘hairy’ rides!! Thank you! I was telling the staff and leadership that when I went back to the van to pick up any trash leftover from the trip, I didn’t find any. Puzzled, I asked them, “What’s wrong with these kids? They’re so good!”
And that’s what I’m learning about teenagers that they have a bad rep in our society. Too often the society characterizes them in a negative light. But I’m discovering that that’s not fair and many specialists on teens agree. Author Richard M. Lerner in The Good Teen: Rescuing Adolescence from the Myths of the Storm and Stress Years argues that too often we focus on the deficits rather than the whole of the person. Sure, they are not as responsible as adults or as compliant as children, but they are growing into adulthood developing various creative and productive personal traits!
I have to admit that when I see a child who comes into adolescence I notice big changes. He seems withdrawn at times and elated at other moments. It’s harder to understand and interact with him. So in my mind I am thinking, “I just got to be patient until he grows out of this,” and maintain a comfortable distance.
According to Dr. Lerner that’s not an effective approach. He advocates that we recognize all aspects of their personhood and fully interact and engage with them with appreciation for who they are and who they are becoming.
That sounds similar to what Jesus taught us to do; “Do unto others as you would want them do unto you!” Because most people, whether teen or adult, want to be appreciated for who they are without being judged or expected to fit into a stereotype.
I’m looking forward to getting to know you and appreciating who you are now and the person God is growing you to become. I ask that you also approach me that way because I want to share all of my life with you too!