Dear Young Life Leader,

You’re on a grand mission.

We all want to believe we’re somebody’s beloved. This is especially true in the world of teenagers where social media “likes” are currency and the hierarchies of high school hallways are familiar enough to make even the richest feel lonely.

Young Life leaders step into a world of students like John 1 describes Jesus: “The word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood” (MSG). You show up to games, drive students home from school, and ask them questions to make them believe their needs, voices, and feelings matter in real life and not just on a screen.

I hope you know that you don’t have to change your friends with the gospel, but that you get to pray that the gospel changes them… and love them even if it doesn’t. I hope you know firsthand how good news like that doesn’t need added obligations to heal a heart. I hope you don’t attempt to play the part of a savior, but simply point lost kids back toward the place where they’re heirs to a throne they don’t know the name of yet.

If they go back, they’ll find out it’s a kingdom built on Love and Joy and Invitation. It’s a home for God’s beloved. If they go back, you’ll probably cry because it’s the most beautiful thing to witness a friend finally learn that she’s been someone’s beloved all this time… that she’s royalty no matter the teenage currency she has stored up in the bank.

You might also cry when you learn that not every kid wants to go home because sometimes being lost starts to feel normal and it’s easier to decide to keep it that way. This is the heartbreaking part of your job, but please don’t let it stop you. This mission you’re on is more grand than a summer camp property or successful ministry stats.

No matter the response, I hope you keep showing up at games and driving kids home and asking questions. Your mission is grand because it’s to love like Jesus, and Jesus calls teenagers (and me! and you!) beloved whether they claim it as a new name or not.

Thanks for forfeiting any of the social currency you could have as a college sophomore or young professional so that teenagers might know the richness of being someone’s beloved. What a grand mission.

Kathryn

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