I Believe In Young People

Used with permission: http://www.freeimages.com/photo/spotlight-1543905

Used with permission: http://www.freeimages.com/photo/spotlight-1543905

I’ve had the joy of working with students for about twelve years now. My time has been spent in different contexts, with students from all walks of life ranging from junior high and high school students, to college and young adult. I’ve had the chance to speak to students at camps and conferences, and work with students living in other parts of the world.

And I’ve come to the same conclusion in each context: I believe in young people.

I don’t use the word believe to simply state some kind of vague and cheesy motivational statement. By saying I believe in them I mean I honestly, like core of my being, trust our world–the present and the future–to this segment of society.

It’s been the same dynamic for years, I know, but older generations often times look at those coming up with fear and disdain, wondering what will happen to the world when they are the main generation. The undeniable truth is it’s young people who continually save the world.

Movements of love and peace and restoration in every decade are proceeded by unsatisfied and convicted young people.

Perhaps the years have a way of callousing our hearts. Instead of seeing existence as a beautiful dance of love, hope, and community, we begin to guard our lives with such stringency that we forget the point of life is to give and share, to love and help one another.

I heard an older adult recently bemoan this current generation of teenagers. Exasperated, he said, “What are we going to do with them?” There was worry and fear in his voice. He had genuine concern about the future and the role of young people in it.

I stood there and thought–What are we going to do? We’re going to celebrate because we’re the ones who are messing everything up…and they’re the ones who will fix it. 

This political season epitomizes this to a degree. So much hate and division is constantly thrust in our faces in an unavoidable fashion. Is this the best we have? Is this the best we can do? I don’t think so.

Young people don’t see the lines of division so clearly. They’re blurred. Perhaps that’s what we need more of at times–a little blurry vision so we can live in balance and hope; a way to break outside of boxes we’ve trapped ourselves in.

I suppose I believe in young people because I believe in the resilient spirit of those who are not influenced by the powers that control our world.

I believe in young people who haven’t sold out to defending and living in fear, but are open and passionate and not afraid to take a stand.

I believe in young people who see without prejudice.

I believe in those who have not given up on the beauty of their dreams.

I believe in the idealistic optimism of those unafraid to take a chance.

I believe in those who understand that words create new worlds.

I believe in not settling for a version of life handed down by previous generations, but instead striving for what is coming.

I believe in those who shun evil and violence and see peace and forgiveness as a the path forward.

The psalmist cries out about following God in his youth. Why? Perhaps God knows something about the youthful soul–the young life that is dreaming and searching and fighting for a better existence.

Every time I step back, I’m amazed at how our youth respond. I see my job as a facilitator and ambassador of young people. The teaching and training I give is an opportunity to unleash their passion, skill, and expertise.

So, I will say it again and again: I believe in young people.

I believe this world is theirs, and I will continually get out of the way to see the ways that God works in their lives.

Agendas are thrown out the window.

Political powerhouses that seek to dominate and control can step over.

Young people have answers.

Perhaps, friends, we should look to them more often.

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