Everybody’s got one. That kid in the neighborhood who you know is either dabbling into trouble or full on leads the charge. There are dozens of different reasons a kid misbehaves. But none of them matter. Why a kid runs into trouble isn’t so much the question as what can you do about it?
It makes us angry when we see kids wasting their lives, throwing away God’s most precious gift of time, wasting their opportunities at education or securing a future through diligent work. But instead of hurling anger at them, showing our disgust, or condemning them…why not try a different approach?
I suggest a game that somewhat resembles being a secret admirer. Stashing an encouraging note on their windshield. Mailing them a card with a Chick-fil-A gift certificate. If there’s a usual hang-out spot, send someone they don’t know there with Happy Meals for them and their friends (I have it on firm authority that teenagers love to still get Happy Meals). Leave a note that says if they make it to such-n-such a youth group next Wednesday, you’ll leave them a couple of tickets for the hot new movie out.
Remind them (in a note) that they are worth more than their actions are portraying. That God has bigger plans for their life. That there is someone watching out for them that cares.
Encourage them to try out for a sport, a play, any kind of competitive activity. Promise them you’ll be in the stands cheering. Even if they stink.
A kid already knows when they have crossed the line. Sometimes the only thing that stops them from continuing on in their foolishness is just one person who believes in them. One person who cares. One person willing to invest in them. They already condemn themselves enough. What they need to hear is encouragement.