written by a very imperfect parent
I recently taught at a student retreat. The emphasis was on training young men and women to be biblical in their relationships and roles. For two of the sessions, my husband taught the boys and I taught the girls.
As I observed the young people at the retreat, an overwhelming theme repeated itself and it wasn't that of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. But rather, what caught my eye, great big letters across the forwards of most of the young people in attendance - N E E D Y.
But what could this generation need? They have Wii's and XBoxes and Nintendos and computers and plasma HDTVs with surrounded sound, cable or dish. They have iPods and cars and movies and all kinds of mass media. They have sports and concerts and fast food and clubbing. They have drugs and alcohol and sex. They have massive church youth groups if they want to be "good" and "safe" while be entertained. And, oh yeah, if all this weren't enought, they have money. What more could they need? Why was N E E D Y written across their forwardheads?
Perhaps it is because we older people keep throwing money at every problem and thereby give them more "things" that dissatisfy. So, we sit back and watch the letters, N E E D Y, grow bigger and bolder across their forwards. And the really sad thing is, as the letters get bigger and bolder, we can't see them because all we see are the Wii's and XBoxes andNintendos and iPods... and wonder why they need more.
Yes, they need more. They need more of our time, our talents, and our discipline poured into their lives. They need more than weekend retreats where teachers can touch the tip of the iceberg when teaching the Word and where counselors really don't have adequate opportunity to erase those letters, N E E D Y, that have become so intrusive in the lives of adults.
They need full time moms and dads who will love them, teach them to work, teach them to play, and give them proper discipline in their lives. But wait, far to many of these young people come from disfuntional homes where there is either a mom OR a dad. Or, they live in a home where there is a mom AND a dad but they work long hard hours to buy the Wii's and XBoxes and Nintendos, and iPods... not just for their children but for themselves as well. And mom and dad's list of toys is even bigger and even more expensive and often times not "appropriate" for the N E E D Y child.
The schools try to deal with the N E E D Y young people. They receive more grants and more stuff and different books (like 2 + 2 has really changed through the years) and better sports equipment and more clubs to join and societies to be a part of and their teachers have higher educations and can now use all these new assets to reason with the N E E D Y children. But when they leave school, it appears that not only are the letters still there, N E E D Y, but the lines of the letters are getting somewhat blurry as mixed messages fill the air.
So now the church steps in to help meet these needs. The church hires a student minister and places him or her in a room full of young people who all have the same words written across their forheads, N E E D Y. Surely this young man (or woman) who is close to their age will be able to erase those trashy letters from across the foreheads of our children. But he can't. So they increase the youth budget and guess what, they bring Wii's and XBoxes, and Nintendos, and TVs, and cable and pizza and concerts to the youth group. We'll bring it all in except for the drugs and alcohol and sex - we don't do that here.
But wait, now they leave their homes with N E E D Y written across their forwards, go to school with N E E D Y scrambled across their foreheads and then they come to church to have those nasty letters erased, only to have them even more emboldened as they leave. We've confirmed one thing, this N E E D Y thing is everywhere. It's like an irreversible tattoo.
WHERE IS THE GOSPEL!!! You know, the gospel that says, the N E E D Y need a savior, not entertainment. The N E E D Y need to be discipled in the Word by older people who may have once been N E E D Y themselves but see the need to rescue these young people from the materialist, entertainment saturated, me centered world and teach them to be confident in Christ so that they can reach out to the N E E D Y rather than be the N E E D Y.
They need order and discipline. N E E D Y should evaporate from their foreheads as the older men and women in their lives teach them to work and to play by participating with them. The N E E D Y dissipates because the need is fulfilled. The need for the community, the church and especially families to pour so much love, order and discipline into the kids that N E E D Y is wipe off their foreheads and their actions spell C O N F I D E N C E in C H R I S T because they are secure in the boundaries and the love of the Christians that God has placed in their lives.
Look for the N E E D Y, pray for the N E E D Y, invest in the N E E D Y.