Opinion

The Shepherd's Heart/Today's young people are making a difference

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Some call them kids. Others use the term "young people" a little too often. Still others may refer to them simply as teens. They are the 14- to 20-year-old crowd and, whatever you may choose to call them; they are a force to be reckoned with.

We should be careful to take note of them. Some of them will vote in their first meaningful elections this fall. Others will go to the polls for the first time the next opportunity we have to elect a president.

And these aren't the ignorant, lazy, feeling entitled teens we've all heard so much about over the past few years. These kids have smarts, integrity and enough political savvy to displace many of us old folks when it comes to knowing the workings of a true republic. And far too many of them have friends who are dodging bullets and RPGs through the dust storms of Iraq and the hills of Afghanistan.

Oh yeah Did I mention that they will be voting soon?

Not only are these young people a bit more politically mature than many of us might have been when we were that age, but many of them are more spiritually aware as well. Whether it be Bible-based, Koran-based, Torah-based, or whatever-based, their faith is strong and many of them have a deep sense of who they are spiritually. I have noticed that many of them are well-advanced in their knowledge of scripture and scriptural principles; much more so than many adults I know, even those who would consider themselves to be spiritual leaders. And they've taught me a thing or two as well.

But we adults, as is our habit, seek to put them in their place. We remind them that they are young and inexperienced and that they will learn valuable lessons as they age.

We set them aside much as we do commodities, storing them up for a later day when we are all used up and we need their strength and faith and vision to pull us through. We tell them, in not so many words, to sit on the sidelines; that their day will come.

In the political realm this can be a scary tactic. For while warming the bench these youngsters glean much needed knowledge and not a little bit of true wisdom. Unlike many of us, they go to the polls armed with that knowledge and wisdom bolstered by their faith and passion. A very winning combination.

In the ecclesiastical world it's much the same. We sideline our best and brightest when they are young and full of love and compassion and zeal and vision. It happened in mainline churches for so long that young people of true faith left the pews and stained glass for living rooms, storefronts and warehouses.

Once there, they changed the style of worship to something more relevant to our society.

They changed the message from one of gloom and doom to a more biblical message of hope and love and forgiveness.

And the people flocked to worship with the young people.

Those young people -- the ones who started the Jesus Movement and those who followed closely on their heels -- now have gray hair and move a little slower than they used to. But they made a difference.

That's what young people do. They make a difference.

The Shepherd's Heart appears on Thursday.