There’s a fine line between support and suppression—between control and care. Let me quote one of history’s most dangerous leaders. A figure who crossed that line to exploit a generation for his agenda.
He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.
— Adolf Hitler
I just heard a disturbing story about missionary workers who clearly are unaware of their responsibility to release potential. A young, 12-year-old boy named, Danny, determined to accept the responsibility to distribute resources that tell God’s love story. The materials were created to share the Gospel in conjunction with the broadcast of the movie, The GodMan. The books were boxed and ready for rollout, but no one was taking the responsibility in Danny’s church. His response to what he viewed as a crisis, “I will do it myself.”
Going door-to-door at Christmastime, the young man put thousands of books in the hands spiritually hungry households. He asked his mother, “For Christmas, all I want is your help. Will you drive me around to tell the message of Jesus?” He even contributed his own cash to cover the cost of transportation.
This story captures the growing desperation of a global generation ready to respond to the cause of Jesus and do something significant now to transform their world. The response by any parent, teacher, and church leader should have been public praise and support. Instead, Danny was confronted with these words, “By whose authority did you do this?” “Why didn’t you ask us for permission first!”
When that story was shared with me, I was infuriated. When teens take initiative to put their faith in action for a kingdom cause or concern, our response must be nothing less than, “Awesome. How can I help you?”
Church leadership is called to “equip saints for the work of service” (Ephesians 4:12) and release their God-given potential. These young saints must be seen as co-equals, co-laborers, and co-owners of the cause of Christ.
Young leaders are under our care, but they are never to be under our thumb begging for permission to serve.
We don’t own youth, as Hitler suggested. We steward, guide, and help them accomplish the passion God has placed upon the their hearts. That’s the real role of a youth worker, parent, or any adult influencer.
Questions to answer:
- What advice would you give Danny to keep him from getting discouraged?
- How would have you helped him achieve his mission and ministry for Jesus?
- What are you doing to make sure youth have the freedom to explore their passion?
I’d love to hear your replies and comments as to how churches can set youth up for greater success to put their faith in action.
6 months later, Danny received a surprise Christmas gift from OneHope to honor his hard work and efforts. He also got a huge applause from an audience of his Albanian peers and a room of grateful church leaders this week.