The Teen Decade And Expectations

Our REACTION to the growing shame in our culture is vital to our RELATIONSHIP with this culture. We must live graceful. And offer this generation the genuine love that is needed when they come down from the crash of not measuring up.
 

One of the things that I have learned in Youth Ministry is that young people live under so much pressure. What kind of pressure? There is the pressure from the parents, from their teachers, from society, from their peers, and for many of them, the pressure from within themselves.

PARENTS
Most parents mean well. But, the kind of pressure that is placed upon young people is almost unattainable. It may be the pressure to be better than the parents ever were, or, to measure up to the achievements of the parents.

TEACHERS
Ever teacher believes that their class is the most important. That it is the expectation of the student to place optimum effort into our class. I know this because I have taught at the University level for nine years now and I fall into that thinking often. Reminding myself that students have 4-5 other classes helps me to see their workload.

SOCIETY
Constant measurement is laid out before young people. There is a hidden expectation. Well, it's not really hidden or unspoken. The pressure to wear a certain thing, to have a certain possession, to talk a certain way, to live in a certain place, or to have a certain friend. If we do not measure up to this 'standard' then we are out of the norm.

PEERS
Even though they are all living under the same pressure, they measure each other with the unrealistic expectations. And because of the proximity of their relationship with their peers, they never get away from it. The fact that young people are always around each other in school (7 hours), on social media (6 hours), and extra-curricular activities (3 hours) daily, they never flee the pressure.

SELF
And all of this shapes who they are. And creates in young people a mentality they are trying to flee.

I know that all of the sociological studies done in the past decade say that this generation is the one that wants to succeed more than at any time in history. They are magna- super- and extra- hyped to achieve. Beyond their older siblings, their parents, and even their grand-parents. Why? Because all of us before them have driven them to be great. And the pressure never stops. And the expectation never ceases. So what do we do? Here is my reaction to an over-achieving generation:

GRACE. Be ready to react to the shame that young people have of not being able to live up to the pressure. With this expectation comes a dramatic crash when young people feel they have not measured up. One of the things that has piloted our ministry is the ability to love teens. Although I am sure that I have added to teens the pressure to be 'world-changers' and 'risk-takers' and to 'do greater things than I have ever done', I have been there along the way with grace. When a young person knows that you can see their value aside from the expectations and the external achievements being placed upon them, they will be drawn to that grace.

Our REACTION to the growing shame in our culture is vital to our RELATIONSHIP with this culture. We must live graceful. And offer this generation the genuine love that is needed when they come down from the crash of not measuring up.

#livegraceful

Jeff Grenell