Life At Its Best: Don't give up, God has a plan
Today, we hear a lot of talk about the next generation that isn't always the most positive. We often hear young people described as "materialistic" or "uncommitted."
It can be easy to grow discouraged by the labels they've been given. Thankfully, though, they don't have to live defined by these terms.
The truth is that they were labeled long ago - not by a poll or survey, but by their heavenly Father. He has a specific plan and purpose for each one of them. And He's called us, who are a bit more experienced in life, to help them pursue it.
There was a man in our church who understood this truth well. He married a woman whose first husband left her and her kids. After the divorce, the kids rarely heard from him.
When this man became their stepfather, he was determined to be a great dad to them. However, one of her sons made it clear he didn't want a relationship with him. He was still hurt and angry with his real dad for leaving him. His pain caused him to become distant and distrusting.
Still, this man didn't give up. He continued to love his stepson and made a consistent effort to connect with him. Over time, the boy began to open up. His stepdad slowly helped him overcome his pain and believe in the purpose God had for him.
Today, the two of them are closer than ever. Every Sunday, that little boy is in church, learning and growing in God's Word. It's apparent that God is doing amazing things in and through his life. And to think, it all started because someone refused to give up on him.
We all have that same opportunity. Every day, we're surrounded by young people who need answers to the pain in their heart. For some of us, they're our own kids. For others, they're kids we've come into contact with through school, church or work.
Whichever it may be, God's called us to reach out to them - to establish godly influence in their lives and live committed to investing into them. Establishing that kind of effective influence starts with rejecting negativity.
We must refuse to live discouraged by labels the world has given them. That doesn't mean we ignore the issues that will bring pain. However, we must choose to operate not out of negativity but out of positive expectation of what God says their life can become.
Then, we must choose to invest into them. For many of us, this can be a little scary. We feel inexperienced and unequipped to talk to teenagers. But what we must realize is that they're not looking for someone to say all the right words; they're looking for someone who will care - someone who will get into their world and in touch with their heart.
Lastly, we've got to stay consistent. They may not open up right away but don't give up. Keep showing that you care. Continue sowing seeds of truth into their lives and watch as God brings proves his purpose through their pain.
Jim Graff is the Senior Pastor of Faith Family Church in Victoria. faithfamilyvictoria.com.