When I Was Fifteen
When I was fifteen I was an idiot.
I was unnecessarily loud.
I said a ton of stupid things just to get attention.
I didn’t read my Bible regularly.
Prayer was a little difficult.
I was just an overall hot mess.
Now, before you judge fifteen-year-old Karli, take 30 seconds to think about what you were like as a teenager.
Not the prettiest picture, is it?
What is my point in bringing this up? Now that you’ve thought about who you were in your younger years, take some time to think about your students.
I would venture to say that there are students in your ministry that are unnecessarily loud. There are students that say crazy things just to get attention. There are students that don’t read their Bibles like you wish they would. There are also students who won’t volunteer to pray because they don’t know how.
There are young people in your ministry that are just that—young people.
Lately, the Lord has been convicting me of holding my students to an incredibly high standard. While this can be a good at times, holding anyone to the standard of perfection is definitely not a good thing. During my time in ministry I’ve found myself upset when one of my middle schoolers tries to get a laugh during prayer time. I grow frustrated when I find out my high schoolers tell me they don’t read their Bibles. To be honest, I don’t believe there’s anything necessarily wrong with wanting my students to grow, but I also have to remember that they are teenagers, and that I was once a teenager, too.
Having the Holy Spirit lead me toward this mindset has helped me to lead them differently. It has taught me to lead them with empathy and love. It has taught me to think back to what would have helped me when I was their age, and try my very best to do exactly that for them.
When I was fifteen, I benefited from someone telling me to use my loud voice for the Lord.
When I was fifteen, I benefited from someone talking with me about how to spend more time in my Bible and giving me advice about prayer.
At 25, I look back and I am so grateful for all of the adults in my life that were patient with my crazy teenage ways. Adults that helped guide me rather than berate me for simply being young.
We need to do the very same thing for the students in our ministry.
Yes, hold them to a high standard. But don’t beat up on them when they fall below it. Instead, disciple them, guide them, pray for them, and show them grace because that is what they need.
It’s what you needed. Right?
My prayer is that we would all take some time to be patient and loving with our students, taking the time to recall that we were once just like them. My prayer is that we would also show them the love and guidance we all needed when we were their age, as well as the love and mercy that the Lord continues to show us every single day.
*Side Note: Typically, this is the place where I add a scriptural tie-in—a Bible verse or two to go along with the blog post. However, I honestly couldn’t pick one. My amazing editor Kaitlyn suggested Philippians 1. However, as I tried to narrow down a few verses to add, I knew I couldn’t pick just one or two. I had too many that spoke to me in terms of today’s topic! So friend, I would encourage you to go read Philippians 1 as you think about shifting the way you lead your students. Happy reading!