These days it can be tough to commit to anything for a long time. We are heading up a small group right now and found that many couples struggle with showing up weekly for nine weeks straight. We have so many interests and little down time, so it can be difficult to stay in it, but the real value of the group is seen only when all are part of it, and put in the time together. The same is true with where we spend our ministry time; a temporary obligation may seem helpful, but sometimes what is needed is a long-term commitment.
If you are working with teens, keep in mind that the average thirteen year old will change schools twice and best friends four to five times before high school graduation, and there is a good chance they will be closely affected by divorce and/or a move. That is a lot of change at a pivotal time, when the physical body is changing dramatically on its own. The last thing they need at this important stage of life is a revolving door of cool adults who really care about them for a year. They already have that in their teachers and coaches. What they need is someone who is committed to walking alongside them for the long haul. Imagine when you were in 6th grade, meeting an adult who was willing to pour into your life and to really listen to your heart; someone who talked to you about the future, and walked shoulder to shoulder with you into it, through dating and friendships and driving. How would your teen life have been impacted? How about your adult life?
I started working with a group of 10th grade girls seven years ago. I loved those girls, and spent a lot of time and energy with them for about two years in Bible study and living life. Our small group fell apart as they graduated from high school, but I kept in touch with several of them, two in particular very closely. I am proud to say that I have been along on the ride with these two women through heartache and college and hardship and celebration. I communicate with them regularly still, even though we live far away from them now. I feel honored to still be included in their lives and to be asked for advice. I feel quite sure that I have learned more from the two of them than they could have from me.
Last week I met with a troubled teen over coffee, she belongs to a local church but doesn’t feel like she has anyone there or at school that she can confide in, and her life is messy and confusing, like it usually is at her age. We agreed to meet weekly for me to check in and reassure her, to ask questions and listen to what is said and what isn’t said. I have asked God to give me a love for her, and I believe He already has. I plan to keep this relationship going for as long as she allows it, and I am honored that I get to do it. My guess is that she expects this to last a few weeks; I hope I am with her for years to come.
Commit to the Lord whatever you do and He will establish your plans. Proverbs 16:3