“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16 ESV)
These days, the brightest and most frequent light our students may see is their phone. If I’m being honest, I should include myself in that. Though, not everything we see on our phones is harmful. God can be glorified through sending encouraging text messages, showing love through social media, or consoling a friend on a phone call. However, our phones can also make us accessible to messages that promote hatred, evil, and fear. Given this reality, it is very important for our students to be involved in a spiritual community.
I could describe my teenage years as three things: cringeworthy, even more cringeworthy, and full of growth. As painful as it might be to look back, I believe there’s an important reason that “cringeworthy” is a stereotypical description for our teenage years. Those years are a crucial time of identity formation as we grow into adults. We try new things, make mistakes, and celebrate our successes. We ask tough questions because we’re looking for answers on how to “do life.” Going through all of this can be emotionally draining for teens and can lead them to develop mental health issues, such as anxiety and depression. I serve in student ministry because I’ve seen firsthand the effects of teen suicide on my family and a community. Students need to know the love and strength God can provide during our darkest moments.
In addition to trying to figure out how to “do life”, teenagers have many pressures on them. They are balancing jobs, extracurricular activities, school assignments, and their family’s calendar. Oh right, they also have to find time for God somewhere in there. Does this last one sound relatable? The most important relationship in our lives gets placed on the backburner due to earthly pressures. The only time some of our students have to get to know God is during StudentLife events. How I see it, every moment we spend with students in StudentLife may be critical to their salvation.
How do you currently have an impact on students? Do you work with them directly? Maybe you try to distance yourself from teenagers. Even then, do you come across them from time to time in real life? Adults are seen as role models, even from afar. How can you take one step to better encourage students’ spiritual development? How can we make God’s love the brightest and most frequent light in students’ lives?
Jesus, I am so thankful for your unconditional love and grace. Give us the wisdom and strength to be good role models for our students. Let our words and actions shine brightly as Your love for the students in our communities. Amen.