Whether you have children or not, hanging around kids can put things into perspective. I was watching four little children last weekend. I must have told them “No!” a dozen times (or 12 dozen times). I even had to discipline one of the boys who wouldn’t listen. Yet, no less then 5 minutes after I told the kids “No,” they wanted to know when I was coming back to their house to play and they told me how much they loved me.
As adults, we are constantly telling kids and teens what not to do, correcting them, redirecting them and challenging them. When we tell a teen “Hey, stop that” or “Cut it out” nine times out of ten they keep coming to youth group. Why? Does that make sense? I just told you that you are not doing something right, and yet, you want to come back? How does that work? Teens are not turned off by someone telling them “no” or challenging them when they are doing something immoral. The reality is quite the opposite. The teens we serve are craving boundaries, answers and truth.
The question is, are we really challenging teens or do we sugarcoat it out of fear that we will lose them? If we have truly entered into relational ministry with the teens, then when we correct or challenge them, they will know it is out of a place of love.
Most of us try to put up a big front and pretend we don’t need direction or guidance. We get upset if someone challenges the decisions we make in life or tells us no. However, we keep going back to the people who tell us the truth (in love). How many people actually tell us the truth? How many people know us well enough to redirect us when we are going astray? The one person to whom I always go back to even after I am told “no” is God. I don’t listen to him; I do things wrong; I don’t get the things I ask for, yet I keep going to back to Him. God will always be there to love us and take care of us, no matter how many times we mess up. We trust that God knows what is best for us, even when we don’t get the things we want. Love is about challenging the people around us because we believe in them, just as He does for us.