I usually seek to write blogs that are intended for everybody of all ages. This week, however, my primary audience is young folks. Students. Teens in middle high or high school, or young persons on college campuses. However, if you are not in any of those categories but (a) know someone who is or (b) feel particularly young at heart yourself, then I hope you’ll keep reading.
Here’s what I am thinking right now: I believe in our future because of the young people I know. Sure, we read a lot about the underbelly of things as they relate to any generation. And things do appear in the news about today’s young persons and topics like delinquency, drugs, gangs, crime, etc. Of course, those articles have been appearing for generations about whoever the youth of the moment happened to be. And never have they defined the vast majority of young people, then or now.
I know a lot of youth, here at church and also through my youngest who is in college. 99% of those I know are bright, sensitive, and capable. Most are also deeply spiritual and ask penetrating questions about God that reveal faith as a priority in their lives.
So, if I were speaking a word to today’s youth at this moment, I would begin by saying, “I’m impressed by you. You’re deep. You’re real. I think you’ll take better care of the future than my generation has.”
I would also say, “Don’t sell out to the things that will tempt you (and tempted all who went before you), things like greed, insensitivity, political arrogance or anger, intolerance, or despair. You’re better than that. So, maintain ethical ideals, and don’t compromise them. Many of us are counting on you to fix this broken world, and it can’t happen unless you are devoted to that which is right and true.” Samuel Ullman wrote: “Nobody grows old by living a number of years. People grow old by forsaking their ideals.” Good advice. Type it out and tape it to your mirror.
A third word I would offer is: “Never give up on your dreams.” Wordsworth wrote:
There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream
The earth and every common sight, to me did seem
Appareled in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.
Chase your dreams. Keep them ever in view. Be wise and brave enough to amend or even change them, but never quit dreaming.
My fourth (and final, for this blog at least) word of advice would be, “Lean into your faith. The fact is that God made you … made you for a purpose … loves you … and is proud of you. Your photo is on God’s mantel. Don’t forget that. Eventually times get tough for everyone. What will help you survive those times is remembering that you are not alone, that the God who made and loves you is always beside you.” Isn’t that what Jesus promised? “Lo! I will be with you always....” I believe in today’s youth and am encouraged about the sort of world they can (and, I think, will) create. They need our experience, love, and prayers. And we need their vision, enthusiasm, and commitment. Every generation builds on the foundation laid by the one that preceded it. I think we are blessed by some very capable world-and-church builders who are on the way.