Teens-What Can They Offer?
by Andrea Goslee
Many of us don’t understand what it’s like to be a preteen in the modern world. Most of us grew up in a time where playing outside was the norm and cell phones were used for phone calls. Today, most preteens have their own phones and regularly use them to stay connected with friends through Instagram, SnapChat and a variety of other social media platforms. Talking on them is a rarity and choosing activities such as riding a bike take a back seat to electronics.
Even though we may not understand this new generation, they are amazing kids with untapped potential. They are bright, eager to learn, and aspire to make a difference in the world. They are in the midst of discovering who they are and they are trying to find their purpose. Serving others is a part of their nature and it is up to the rest of us to help cultivate their interests and show them how they can use their gifts and talents for good in the world.
So, what can you do to empower preteens to tap into their potential?
Find out what they are interested in. Don’t be too quick to pigeonhole your child into one specific activity. Give them time to explore a broad range of options from sports, art, music, or getting involved in student government. Provide them with opportunities to develop their talents, as well as discover leadership gifts. Give them space to make some of their own decisions about how they spend their time and to voice an opinion on what they would like to try.
Invite them to serve with you. Opportunities to serve are endless, from helping a neighbor to serving at a local charity such as Joshua’s Place or Matthew 25 Ministries. Let them serve alongside you at church as a greeter or as a preschool helper. When preteens get a taste of how it feels to give back to others, they will want to do it even more!
Ask them what they can do to make a difference in the world. Help them explore online what other kids are doing such as collecting teddy bears for sick kids or raising money to purchase socks for the homeless. Let them create a project of their own and help them promote it to friends and relatives.
It’s important to cultivate serving in preteens because it connects their deep desire to make a difference in the world to a right view of their identity. It’s not about their Snapchat streak or the brand of their sneakers. It’s about the mark they leave on this world long after they’ve moved on.
Still not convinced? Go find a preteen. Don’t ask them to clean their room, but invite them to serve a cause that is greater than something they can do on their own, and I guarantee they’ll be there in a heartbeat.