We must invest into our teenagers, they are our future.” This is a phrase that I have heard countless times over the years at churches, schools, places of employment, and government. Likely, you have heard it used as well. But personally, I’ve never really liked it.
The problem is not that the statement is wrong… teenagers really are the future leaders of our organizations. The problem with the statement is that it’s incomplete. Teenagers are our future, but they are also our present. And the view that only sees their value in the future is short-sighted.
When we shift our thinking from “what could teenagers accomplish in the future” to “what do they offer in the present,” we begin to look at them in a very different light.
- We begin to expect significant contribution from them.
- We begin to recognize what life lessons/skills we can learn from them.
- We readily hand over significant responsibilities to them.
- We begin to dream “with” them, not just “for” them.