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The Care and Keeping of 20somethings

We may need to work with them before we can expect them to step up to leadership.

Alex's schedule helped me, too. He helped lead worship for our student ministry and worked with me on a design concept and logo for an upcoming student retreat. He was easy to work with and took direction well, and his work was evidence of his talent. I then referred Alex to my denomination's headquarters, where he was paid for some additional graphic design work.

People like Alex are everywhere. The twenties are a transitional time of life when much support and understanding are needed. Without an understanding of the culture Alex is launching into, I might think of him as lazy or unmotivated. Yet when I give Alex more of my time and encouragement, I get more opportunities to plug him into ministry. It's a win for both of us.

Essential #4: Honesty Check

Working with 20somethings may be the best humility check you can get in ministry. The way to build a relationship with young people is not to impress them with your theological knowledge or leadership know-how. It's not about having the answers or "fixing" them. In fact, it's the opposite. Today's 20somethings were young teenagers when the twin towers fell. They are a generation raised with terrorist threats and war, with the reality of violence and oppression only a click away. Their temptation is cynicism—but optimism is wooed by authenticity. If you can't get real with young people, you will lose credibility.

My pastor has always said "more is caught than taught," an essential worth living. Young people want honesty from you. They want to know that you don't have it all figured out (and you certainly didn't in your twenties!) They want to know that you can be wrong and that you know how to apologize for it. They need to know it's okay to not have it all together. They need to know that there's hope for them even when they are a mess. In her blog post on the topic, young author Jennie Allen said, "we would rather you be a wreck and honest than polished and plastic feeling."

October23, 2012 at 10:40 AM

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