Recently, I was reading a blog that described an important lesson the author learned from a 13 year old. The lesson was ‘You be you’. Good reminders in the article about owning who you are. What surprised me was that the author was somewhat taken back that a 13 year old had wisdom to offer to her as an adult.
Perhaps it is my 16 years working in Junior High ministry, but I’ve learned a great deal from 13 year olds. For instance:
-How to turn off my ipod
-How to use a flat iron
-How to connect a Bluetooth device
-That Young Adult fiction is amazing
-More YA authors than I can count
-That young teens have phenomenal capacity for serving, compassion, achievement if empowered and given opportunity.
-The deliciousness of Sonic tots
-That young teens want their parents involved in their lives more than they can ever articulate
This is just what I came up with in a few minutes one afternoon. If you’ve ever spent much time with me, you know that I am a firm believer in that junior high students are some of the greatest people on the planet. They have little to no filter. They possess the ability to wrestle with faith and work out their relationship with Christ in ways I never did at their age. Junior highers like to play!
One of my favorite pictures from our last mission trip to Green Bay is students spread out all over the playground equipment, yet digging into their Bibles during morning devotions. It’s a beautiful snapshot of the process young teens are undergoing. It brings my heart joy to be a tiny part of junior higher’s faith journey. What a privilege to be invited into their lives at a pivotal time in development!
A HUGE pet peeve is when teenagers are called ‘the church of tomorrow’. Seriously…this just needs to STOP! Teenagers are an active, vital part of the church TODAY! I often remind people who say this phrase that when our congregation confirms sixth graders that they become full members of Fishers United Methodist Church. This means they have the same standing as any adult member. Please do not discount them because they aren’t a grownup. Or because they can’t drive yet. Or because their tithe is either nonexistent or very small. Young teens have energy. They have tech knowledge that I will never understand. They have insights that other generations do not. Teenagers have a mindset of opportunity—they have an innate ability to find solutions, a work-around, another way (yes, even if they can’t find the peanut butter in the pantry). Why would the church body not want to utilize their gifts?!
I tell students that I am their champion within the church structure. If ever the need arises, I have their back. Why? Because God has called me to serve young teens. He has gifted me with the opportunity to serve. And if need be, I’ll defend or champion them to the bitter end. Why? Because I don’t see their age as a limitation. I see it as an asset.
There is quite a bit to be learned from a 13 year old. I highly recommend spending some time getting to know some of our Fire & Water junior highers. They are some of the best people I know. And, there is probably a thing or two that they could teach you.
PS Want to serve in the JH ministry? I would LOVE to chat about that. Shoot me a text, email, or phone call. (Though a 13 year old would tell you that no one makes phone calls anymore.)