Everyone knows the saying, “April showers bring May flowers.” With spring time in full swing, and the rainy day outside, it has me thinking about this play on words.
Parenting and ministry to teens is much like gardening. It is really exciting so see the end result of beautiful flowers that bring a lovely aroma to a room and that can be displayed. Nobody likes to talk about the process that happens to get to that beautiful arrangement. There is a long process of watering, sunlight, protecting from storms and pulling of weeds that happens.
Raising teens is so similar. There is so much that has to be poured into teenagers: time, energy, patience, money, the word, character, respect, and words of affirmation are just a few to begin. Without these items, their growth may indeed be stunted. In addition, as you lead and guide teenagers, you are constantly having to shed light on topics. The light that you use hopefully is the word of God. Encouraging them to ask the question, does (you fill in the blank) line up when held in the light of the word of God? Furthermore, we try to shield and protect them from certain situations, whether it be financial worry, or knowledge in which they are simply not ready. There is a balancing act between knowing when to shed light on a topic in full exposure to discuss and when to shield for another time.
Then, of course with students we are helping them pull the weeds in their own lives. Hopefully, you aren’t just addressing symptoms to the real problem. We want to get to the root of the issue. After all, a student caught stealing is not just an “I wanted it” problem. It is a lust after something that is not rightfully theirs or possibly a problem with pride thinking they don’t have to pay for an item.
When you see a former student walking as an adult, it is easy to forget about the whole process that happened beforehand in the watering, weeding and waiting phase. All we see is a blossomed full blown beautiful person creating beauty wherever they go.
I want to remind you of what the Bible says in Galatians 6:9, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Don’t give up parents, teachers, friends, youth pastors, small group leaders, and anyone within reach of teenagers. It is easy this time of year to want to just bow out, take a breather, let our guards down, because after all, “it is almost summer.” I am here to say to you, don’t give up. Press on. Keep watering. Keep shedding light for those teenagers; they need it now more than ever. Get out your rake and help pull the weeds out. Show them how God can rake right over that spot and make it even soil again.
“At the proper time,” not our handpicked time, but the proper time seen by God, there will be a harvest. In order to see the harvest, we must say yes to the daily garden tending that is needed.
Caroline Hare is the youth minister at Destin United Methodist Church.