For the culturally blended generation of Jesus-followers we’re leading, boundaries have become increasingly blurred. So it’s essential for us to set positive examples as we embrace who we are as individuals, people of faith, and inhabitants of Western civilization. We must guide teenagers toward wise decisions in all these settings without stripping away their identity, relevance, or influence as global citizens.
The blending of individual, Christian, and Western cultures that young people experience doesn’t have to jeopardize their beliefs. Neither do they have to hide their faith under a bushel (no!). This mesh of cultures actually puts kids in a unique position to be passionate followers of Jesus who influence culture while embracing diversity and showing respect—not rebuke—for people’s differences. What type of example are we setting for the teenagers who look to us for much-needed guidance?
Here’s a road map of cultural boundaries we can model in each of the three areas:
- Slow down on the selfies. In this self-infatuated, self-indulged time, let’s grow by learning more about one another and sharing our discoveries. Post fewer pictures of yourself and more of the beautiful people Jesus has placed in your life.
- Invest more time building relationships through face-to-face interactions and less time in isolation with screens. Put down the phone!
Rolling Stone recently highlighted research showing that teenagers are using alcohol and drugs at the lowest rates since 1990. Some experts believe this decline isn’t due to better behavior but to skyrocketing screen time. Teenagers spend so many hours mesmerized by devices that they’re not interacting with peers, developing social skills and emotional maturity.
- Bring back WWJD! Remember when that popular slogan forced Christians to contemplate what Jesus would do in almost every situation of daily life? A renewed focus on that can help us listen before we speak and think before we post. And, of course, we can’t determine WWJD if we haven’t first explored WDJD? I mean, we must lean more deeply into “What Did Jesus Do?” as we consider what he might do in any situation. (Group has created two whole sets of lessons for its highly popular LIVE small-group curriculum to help with this—Jesus-Centered Life and Year With Jesus.)
- Exemplify love and obliterate hate. Don’t be an abusive, judgmental Christian who causes other people to give up on faith. Instead, exemplify and personify Jesus’ love. If your actions aren’t done out of love, don’t do them. If your words aren’t said with love, don’t say them. If what you’re promoting, sharing, tagging, reposting, or commenting on isn’t motivated by love, then stop.
- Resist the urge to self-promote and get ahead. Lift up and recognize the people around you and their accomplishments, focusing on their advancement however you can.
- Spend less than you make and give more than you take. Otherwise, keeping up with the latest and greatest becomes the reason we earn. Make sure the love of money and consumerism don’t become idols.
In our increasingly global world, cultural boundaries help young people embrace their identity in Jesus. What other boundaries can youth workers model for students?