138 Dirksen Drive, DeBary, FL US 32713
"What's going on with kids today?"
This is a question adults ask each other pretty regularly. Chances are you've heard it - or maybe you're the one who asked it - in your circle recently. It's a question that comes up when kids are being silly or clueless or entitled or downright horrible. It's an echo.
This coming July I will have been working with students for more than nine years, and I hear echoes from them, too. I can tell you that the most significant echo I hear is one that actually answers the question about what's going on with them. I constantly hear the echo of students trying to figure out WHO THEY ARE.
One of the best parts of my job is when I get the opportunity to sit face-to-face with students and talk. I enjoy asking questions. I enjoy helping them to open up. Often my conversations with students start slow, but they usually pick up and then the time starts flying. Our conversations frequently revolve around current trends or what's happening in their friend world. Regardless of the subject matter, I have trained myself over the years to pay close attention to echoes. This helps me better understand them so I can better lead them.
Over and over again, what I hear from students reveals how hard they're trying to figure out who they are and prove their worth, to themselves and everyone else.
They are wandering the hallways at school constantly thinking that their value depends on their popularity.
They are posting images on social media in hopes that they will get enough "likes" to feel good about themselves.
They are talking about pursuing a homosexual lifestyle or testing the waters of being bisexual.
They are trying to put on an identity that matches what the world approves of.
They believe that who they are is determined by how they already see themselves and how others see them.
Students need to know the truth that their identity is in what Jesus Christ did for them on the cross.
I know that this may be hard to swallow. But the truth is that our students are responding to the broken rhetoric that our world broadcasts at them every day. Whether they attend public school or not, they are exposed to this rhetoric - the one that is constantly telling them you figure yourself out, and we're all here to support you.
Students are in dire need of TRUTH - the truth that their identity is not in what they do or what others say about them. They need to know the truth that their identity is in what Jesus Christ did for them on the cross.
Jesus Christ made a way for them to be called sons and daughters. To be accepted. To be forgiven. To live a purposed life. To be all the things they're desperately searching for.
2 Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!"
Students need to find the truth so that they can abandon their old selves and embrace their identity in Jesus Christ. Because of what Jesus did for us, God no longer sees the old us. He sees only Jesus, whom he loves dramatically and unconditionally and for all time. He sees a new creation.
Students need to hear that even in those moments when we don’t embrace God, He still embraces us.
Students need to know that there is healing from all of the ways they've tried to find their identity in the wrong places.
Students need to experience the life of freedom they can have when they know their identity is sealed in Jesus Christ.
"What's going on with kids today" may seem confusing. It may seem like one of those questions that doesn't really have an answer. But students' need is simple. They need to know they are safe...more than that, that they are SSAFE: Secure, Significant, Accepted, Forgiven, and Empowered in Jesus Christ.
This is the heart of the Jr. High Fall Retreat on November 11-13. I pray you will consider sending your students as we tackle this crucial truth. You can register here.
And parents, we want to hear from you. In what things do you see students try to form an identity? What are your biggest hurdles in helping them see their identity in Christ? What questions do you have about the retreat? We'd love to hear your observations, answer your questions, and talk any time. Give us a shout in the comments below!