Working in youth ministry with junior high and high school students over the past I don’t know how many years has given me lots of things. First, it’s given me an incredible amount of failures. It’s given me a lot of entertainment and laughs. It’s given me gray hair. It’s given me headaches and sleepless nights. It’s given me countless privileges to walk on a faith journey with a young person. It’s given me lots of tears, stress, extra hours of prayer, challenges, successes, awesome retreats… ok I could go on.
One other thing is that it has given me a little bit of insight into the heart and ind of a teenager. I’m not claiming to have all the answers – I’m not claiming to be very smart – I’m claiming that my experience with teens over the last 12 years has given me a little bit of insight with teens.
I hope that isn’t too much of a stretch.
Ok, why all this? Because, morality. There are so many well-meaning people at our parish, at other parishes, and from who knows where telling me we need to do more things to teach morality to our teens – but it all sounds and feels more like “you need to crack open their heads and brainwash them into thinking this one thing that I think is the end all be all issue and it needs to be this.”
And we do morality nights – on chastity, on obeying God, on pro-life, on stealing, on cheating… etc. Do I expect a big turnaround in the life of teens based upon these nights? Heck no. It can start a discussion or get them thinking, but if convincing others of the truth were as easy as one 90 minute youth night, well, we probably wouldn’t have too many youth nights.
I’ve come up with a bit of a theory here – and it is that teens essentially need 3 things to really be empowered to make good moral choices in their life. All three of these things are important, none of them is a quick fix, and they all take efforts from the teens, the parents and the Church.
So this, I guess, is a 4 part series – and you’ve just read part one. Congratulations! And I realize, this told you nothing more than – Hey, I’m writing a morality series! Parts 2-4 will come out about every other day for the next week or so – so stick with me.
Again, I’m not claiming this is the end all – be all. And I’m not claiming that this closes the book on teen morality – this is my discussion starter – based on my experiences loving, being rejected by, listening to, supporting, praying for, praying with and observing teenagers.