In the sixth episode of the Paradigm Shift Podcast, Alex Sanfilippo interviews Eric Nelson on the topic of our youth. Eric answers questions in regards to the struggles of our youth and how we can help. Eric is a senior author for DailyPS. You can listen to the podcast through YouTube or you can click here to listen on iTunes.
Podcast Episode 6: “The Struggles of Our Youth and How We Can Help” Show Notes:
Question: Tell us about what you’ve noticed about the next generation and the challenges they face?
Lack of Mentorship and Discipleship
According to the National Mentoring Partnership, 1 in 3 young people will reach adulthood without a mentor. Mentors are critical to a child. A mentor can help model positive behavior – how to treat others, how to dress appropriately. Day to day challenges – how to handle conflict, appropriate responses to adversity. Academic success – better appreciation for school, advanced educational aspirations.
Social Media Use/Access
In most children/teens, risk-taking is high and impulse control is low. Social media is more readily accessible to our youth now more than ever before. Accessed any time and can easily be accessed in private without the proper parental restrictions. Social media can be used for children to compare themselves to their peers. This can lead to jealousy or attribute to negative self-image. It can also allow children to manipulate how others view themselves; taking a photo until it is just right. Nothing wrong with social media, but it has to be used in an appropriate manner.
Lack of Values and Discipline
When children aren’t led by solid values, they value what the world offers. Popularity, sex, money, drugs and alcohol. 2 Timothy 3:2 NIV says, In the end times, people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy.
Divorced family, fatherless or motherless families, parents working multiple jobs to make ends meet, etc.
Related Post: Why We Cannot Parent Like Our Parents
Question: How can our mentorship and discipleship play a role in the lives of our youth? What can we do?
Definition of Mentor: to advise or train someone
MENTORS bring advice and influence to those whom they offer guidance.
Definition of Disciple: to embrace and assist in spreading the teachings of another
The main difference is that a disciple maker brings intentional spiritual investment into their disciples lives trusting that God will bring growth and strength to those we invest in. As a Christian, it is God’s command all throughout the New Testament to go and make disciples. Intentional time set aside to help your disciple grow into the likeness of Christ. Trust the Holy Spirit to transform and grow whom we disciple, that they may go on and disciple others as well.
Know the difference before meeting with your mentee; communicate your intentions.
There are three critical parts in mentoring the youth:
This one sounds obvious but that word carries a heavy weight. Set the example for your mentee. Display patience, kindness and love. When we recognize sin and shortcoming in others, may it remind us of our own sinfulness and shortcomings and may that compel us to be gracious and loving towards our mentee. Love is vulnerable and messy but produces great joy in people who genuinely love each other
Trust is a foundational component of any relationship. It is important to be honest about our shortcomings to teach our youth that they aren’t the only ones that make mistakes. When we are honest with ourselves and others, that is when we can experience change and growth in each other. When a child begins to trust you, there are walls that come down in their lives relationally and personally. They know they can express themselves. They know they don’t have to carry the burden of making mistakes. On the other hand, if we portray ourselves as perfect, a child will be less likely to admit their wrongs and find ways to hide their imperfections.
Believe in them and believe in who God created them to be. You may be the only person they know who invests and believes in them. Enter into their world. Rarely will a child ask you for advice when you give them the okay to do so. It’s important for adults to be proactive and relational. Ask questions, listen and gain understanding.
Question: What does mentorship and serving the youth look like practically?
Some practical ways to mentor and serve the youth. Parenting is obvious; if you are a parent, continue to educate yourself.
Here are some practical ways to help:
– Give financially (locally and/or globally)
– Use your profession to advocate for children
– Volunteer at a homeless shelter or juvenile detention center
– Volunteer at the YMCA, Boys and Girls Club, youth ministry at church, VBS
– Apply to a youth mentoring program (jaxkids.org)
– Programs like Big Brothers Big Sisters, Daniel Kids
– School based and community based mentoring
– Coach a youth sport
– Get certified to become a teacher
– Become a foster parent (myflfamilies.com) Over 400,000 children in foster care in the United States
– Adopt a child or children (fssjax.org) Family Support Services of North Florida
Related Post: Go Into The World
Question: Any final thoughts on the struggles of our youth?
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 18:1-4 NIV
A child’s trust is pure and humble. Children rely on their parents to meet their needs just as we should submit to our Heavenly Father to meet our needs. When we submit to God the Father, he receives us freely as His children. My hope is that this truth compels us to love children with the same love our heavenly Father has for us. His grace and the Holy Spirit is what will lead and guide us as we disciple and mentor our youth.
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