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Sep 01

Act your age, not the young people’s!

As leaders, one of the most important gifts we can give our young people is the gift of being ourselves. Too many times I meet youth leaders who are trying to be younger than they are, as if they are being more like another teenager than the adult role model they are supposed to be.

walk in your boots

If we are not ourselves, we feed the myth which is often prevalent in churches today that you have to be young to relate to young people. I believe young people need good, Christian role models to lead the way on how to live life fully for Jesus, not more peers trying to work it all out at the same speed they are.

Here are 5 reasons why:

1. Young people can spot a fake a mile off
Even if we think we are doing well acting their age, liking the things they like, listening to the music they listen to, the young people know instantly when we are not being true to ourselves.2. Authenticity is more appealing
God has made each of us on purpose and with unique passions and interest, which develop and deepen with age. Leaders need to be genuine to who God has made them to be so that the reflection of Jesus displayed in them is more authentic.

3. Model the future for them
The future is often confusing for young people. If they only grow up knowing young people as Christians, they have little idea of what it means to be living life to the full for God as an adult. We get to model something different when we show that we are still excited about what Jesus has done for us and how God is leading us into our thirties, forties, fifties and beyond.

4. Be a spiritual parent not a friend
Young people are in desperate need for adult Christians who are willing to invest in them for the long haul. They don’t need more friends but they need adults who are willing to build relationship with them, to invest in them, to give them time and commit to supporting them wherever they go and whatever decisions they make. They need leaders who will be like spiritual parents, loving them and leading them in God’s kingdom.

5. Be an example of how to grow up well
Our society tends to believe the lie that youthfulness is the most important trait; that we are at our peak when we are young. Advertisers make careers out of selling us products to keep us young and care-free. But the Bible shows us that there is significance in every age and that we should mature in our faith, yet remain child-like (not childish). Too many adults are ‘perpetual teenagers’, denying the reality of their age and wishing to stay as young and care-free for as long as possible. What we really need are adults who will grow up properly, become all they are in Christ and demonstrate to the young people they lead that they should aim for constant growing and developing into the likeness of Christ. A journey that should last a lifetime. Don’t set a bad example of someone who misses out on becoming all that God has in store for you.

The bottom line is that when we are true to who we are, we are authentic in our relationships and in our walk with God. This will be far more effective in discipling young people because it’s real, so don’t try to be a teenager, be yourself!

If you have any thoughts on this or questions you might like to raise, do leave a comment below.