January 30, 2013 at 5:54 p.m.

Lead by example and invest in the lives of youth

Young respond to direction and guidance ‘modelled in a positive and constructive way’

By Meredith Ebbin- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

Over the past four weeks we have looked at how we can make a difference in our young people. From the role of the church, to the role of fathers and the style of parenting, we have seen that it is our problem and not just a youth problem. Today I would like to share what I believe our youth really need. Based on my observations, and working with the youth of Bermuda for more than 14 years, I believe the responsibility for change resides in adults. We must begin to see the potential that our young people have and raise our expectations for them. I would like to come full circle this week and place the responsibility on the church to be real and the general community to be an example for our youth to follow.

We are in a day when we really need genuine churches. I am constantly reminded that we have to forego traditions and man-made rules, and really address and equip people on how to live for God. Only shallow people want to come to church to be part of a fashion show, or to obtain the latest "hear-say". I realize that people really desire to get this Christian life thing in order. I come into contact with people at Cornerstone who want to know how do I defeat a drug addiction? Or how do I continue to live for God when my spouse is on crack-cocaine? How do I overcome depression and rid suicidal thoughts or how do I escape living an ordinary Christian life when Jesus said it should be abundant? They want to live a victorious life because deep in their hearts they know that God desires this more than they do. Why do we have such expectations and longing in our hearts? I believe it is because God created us this way! He wants us to be real and this is one of the vital things that youth need. They need to know that there is a God who is real and that He loves them and has a purpose for their lives. And they have to see these examples of real living in the lives of people that are walking their talk.

The second thing that young people need are adults who will take the time to demonstrate to them that their lives are important and valuable. The main way this is communicated is by adults taking the time to provide direction and guidance for them. It has been proven time and time again, as I have worked with youth through the years, that they need and actually want structure and direction. We can be so prone to think the young people today lack respect and actually hate any form of authority. However, there are many examples that show they have grown to hate it, primarily because they have not seen it modelled in a positive and constructive way. Too many times I have seen the results when adults do not take time to invest in the next generation. It produces people that lack confidence resulting in despair and purposelessness. This is because when those closest to young people do not care for them, the inevitable result is that our youth cease to care for themselves. God's design is for the family to be the main place that youth get guidance, correction, values, discipline, respect, etc. However, with the breakdown of the family we have ongoing challenges.


As I have been working with youth over the years, I have come to learn that even those who have had the worst start still have hope. Even those who have good family units can still benefit from a mentor to help them to discover their purpose and provide additional direction for their lives. This is where adults can invest in the lives of our youth, provide a network and bring about a culture in their lives that is supportive to the family as well as the positive persons around them. I am discovering more and more that many youth do not have a role model involved in their lives to guide them in life. I know this first hand because at the age of 15, a youth pastor by the name of Mark Hall decided to invest in my life, which I am certain that his involvement has been instrumental in where I am today.

With this example I have decided to do the same by being involved in youth ministry. I have been teaching young people the Word of God and encouraging them to live for God. I have had the privilege to train teenagers through the years and by God's grace many of them are in places of leadership today impacting other youth.

There is Torrey Usher, who is the youth pastor at Calvary Gospel Chapel; Nathan Samuels who is a lawyer for Mello, Jones, and Martin; Joshua Samuels who serves as youth pastor at Cornerstone Bible Fellowship; Khamla Smith who became one of the youngest meteorologist in Bermuda; and Sharmini Samuels who became an underwriter. Many had close family units, which of course helped, but a role model to invest in their lives only encourages the principles that parents are trying to enforce. The names I mentioned are not on the streets. They did not join gangs, nor are they doing drugs. What did these young people have that some youth don't have today? The answer is adults who take the time to invest in their lives and encourage them to reach their full potential in life by focusing more on their character than their talents, education, or family status. Our youth need the love of God, real structure, encouragement and accountability. We will then change youth one by one to create a positive culture that is more powerful than the negative one around them. I complete this series with a challenge: what is it that you can do to set the example for our youth. The best example you can give them is a heart changed by God and following Jesus Christ with total dedication. I leave you with these verses:

When the Word of God talks about mature women it says, "Then they can train the younger women..." Titus 2:5a

Paul tells a young man the name of Timothy... "...entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others." 2 Timothy 2:2b

Men and women of character are needed to change our nation. That is what our youth need... they need you.

Pastor Gary C. Simons serves as the Senior Pastor of Cornerstone Bible Fellowship, 82 Church Street, Hamilton, Bermuda

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