Every once in a while I feel this sense of urgency, as if there were something important to say or do that is just on the edge of my mind, just out of reach, and yet I know that it is meant to be shared and that there are people and places and things that will be affected if I don’t share it.
I’ve had such a feeling nagging at me for the past couple of months, it will show up at the oddest times – like when I’m preparing to celebrate the holidays with my family, or look at my already full schedule with a sense of anticipation, or when, as now, I find myself called away from my evening routine to go answer the call, the feeling, the tug to do and say something more.
What is my message? What is the thing that I get to share at this time? I work with hundreds of young people every week, and so perhaps the message I get to share with my audience – young and old – is about the character of the individuals who will soon be the officers, businesspeople, world leaders, and moms and dads of this world. As one of my mentors describes it, I think I’ve “got my finger on the pulse of the planet,” and we need to know what is going on. Here is what I’ve found:
1. The number one concern of today’s young people is family. This goes against the common idea that they first want to be “popular,” “successful,” or that they care more about their peer group than their parents. Not true. Most teenage rebellion is based on the fact that teenagers don’t know how to communicate what is going on inside of them, and their parents won’t take the time to listen. This takes a different form and becomes more pointed when they mature. I have had numerous conversations with college-aged men recently, in which they describe that the reason they want to get rich is to get their parents out of debt. Most young people feel the weight of what their family is going through, and they see that the first step to fixing the world is fixing their family. They want to help their parents
2. Young people today are begging for – in fact, they crave – rules. Not just any rules, however, they want rules that help them make sense out of this crazy world they live in. In addition, they want someone who they can rely on to enforce the rules. Want more respect from a teenager? Make a rule, discuss why it is important, get an agreement to abide by the rule, and then stick to it. If you miss any of these steps you are liable to lose trust. Teenagers are extremely observant, and the minute they can sense you don’t mean what you say, they feel like they have to be the one who runs the show, and they do it in a variety of ways – from rebellion to guilt to shutting down. If you are a young person in this predicament, find a Source who you know will never change – church is a good way to go – and hold yourself to those rules.