Dear Youth workers, parents, church leaders, teachers and anyone else who cares about seeing their young people encouraged and supported in these difficult times.
This has been quite a year for all of us. We have had to hit the reset button on our expectations, our dreams and our goals. Now, this may be more of a setback for some, but for most of us it is just a delay in a greater outworking of our lives. For some however, this time has come at the very start of their adult lives.
For years 12s and 13s right now, there is a feeling of ambiguity, of loss and of a lack of clarity about life direction. And yet the pressures of their season of life remain. It is UCAS time! It is time to “figure out” what they want to do after college, and by extension, their lives.
Rather than simply naming the pressures of this time I think it is best to think back to your own experience. I don’t know about you, but I had absolutely no idea what my life would look like when I was 16/17. I barely knew who I was then, let alone what my passion and calling was. I had thought I would go on to study sciences, like many of my family (and having studied sciences in my A Levels up to that point). But that was simply not what God’s calling was in my life. Having spent time wrestling with my calling and my passions I essentially did a full 180 and applied to study Theology.
The direction I chose was not what made most sense academically or financially (graduate job wise), but it was the biggest and best decision of my life thus far. Going against these pressures of financial stability and (self imposed) familial and societal expectations was a bit of an uphill battle and I’m sure many of you felt the same.
The thing that made the most colossal difference for me, and for many, was having a space to recognise what my passions were as well as what my pressures were. As those who young people look to in this time, let us do three things.
- Name the pressures in the young person's world, but seek to not add to them.
- Listen out for and help to recognise each young person’s passions. Call out giftings and encourage young people when you see them.
- Point to Jesus and bring it back to prayer to encourage them to seek out love for him and purpose will follow.
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28