November 04, 2009

Struggling Teenagers? Don’t Give Up Early!

Written By Cary Schmidt

Have you had a student come through your youth group, graduate, and not mature spiritually the way you hoped? It seems no matter how we pray, labor, plan, or serve—there are some that graduate and drift spiritually.

What about trying to help a struggling student, only to feel like you’re spinning your wheels? Gauging by the immediate response or lack of change, you would guess your influence was zero. Few things in life are more frustrating and discouraging to a youth worker. These experiences make us feel like failures and scream at us to quit.

The same is true for the parents of the kids who struggle—times maybe a million! Feelings of discouragement and disappointment can be overwhelming.

But consider for a moment: How many adults in your church were saved or came back to the Lord in their 20’s or 30’s? How many men surrendered their life to the Lord while they were in the military? How many mature Christians do you know that struggled during their younger years?

The reality is, as long as someone’s heart is beating, there is still hope for them to stop drifting. When do you give up? Never… ever… ever.

In the past two weeks God has allowed me to have three appointments with five adults (two couples, one single) who love the Lord and are becoming very passionate about living their lives and raising their families for Him. Between four and six years ago, these adults were teens who brought about some tearful meetings and discouragement for their parents and others. They were seriously struggling. They resisted everything—and probably hated me.

Today, they are growing in God’s grace, loving Him, and frankly— they are friends I anticipate spending time with. In every case, through their struggles, their spiritual anchor (their parents and pastor) remained in place.

After a season of drifting, many will return to the strong foundation to which you led them in the first place. Keep the big picture in focus—the long term. You might lose the battle now, after all they do have a free will. But the rest of the story hasn’t been told yet. Don’t stop praying, loving, and hoping. In time, many of those who drifted will mature and return—and when they do, they should certainly find a friend in you!