Home > What my boys teach me about God > what’s the size of your welcome mat?

what’s the size of your welcome mat?

I can nail down most of my inner sense of confidence to my youth.   Yes, there were bullies and people who would put me down, but all it took was one person to make the difference.  Not someone my age, but someone older.   Just a few encouraging words would enable me to cut through the hurtful words and empower me to move forward in my giftings.


My youth pastor and his wife took me out and let me hang out at their place.  They wrote me encouraging notes and showed me “the ropes” of life.   The odd adult would stop and  take time to acknowledge and encourage me when I did well.   I remember the lady who would take me for a slurpee every once and awhile just to cheer me on.   Sometimes my teacher would see something special in me and call it out.


Its hard to express with words what even the smallest gesture of kindness did inside my young heart when someone older would invest in me – even just in a few words.


Here I am on the other side now seeing young people all around me.  They’re in my church, they’re in the schools I teach in.   I see that same longing in their eyes too – for someone to believe in them.   There are moments when I’m teaching where I can see the heart of a young person burst when I point them out to say “great job” or give a high five.  It means something to them.   Sure, there’s those who pretend they don’t care when I encourage them, but then I see a twinkle of hope ignite in their heart.  “Haha! Caught ya!”, I think to myself.


I didn’t realize how easy it would be to criticize young people when I grew up.  I thought I’d always be young and hip.  Like when you’re driving down the street and a group of teens just walk right in front of you, completely oblivious to anything else in the world other than themselves.  I roll my eyes and think; “I was never like that”…..


Or observing their work ethic.  I sigh, “Young people these days don’t know how to work hard like we did”….   Oh give me a break!  MY “work ethic” (or lack of) drove my parents right up the wall.


I’ve found myself laughing to myself when teens have confided in me about something they’re going through with their parents and I’m biting my tongue to NOT say; “OH, your mom’s just doing that because……”   You know you’re not a teen anymore when you find yourself relating more with the parents point of view….


I was recently working at a school and this young, cute 20 something was co-teaching with me.   I’ll never forget the kids asking her; “Is that your MOM?” (pointing at me)  EXCUSE ME?!   I still chuckle about that quite a bit. (as I dab on a few more layers of Oil of Olay…..)


I used to know all the cool things to say to teens. Now I get blank stares after attempting to say something witty in front of them.   Yup, I’m cool…


However, despite the fact I’m getting older (I’m not THAT old…. just sayin’), I remember not caring about how hip the adults were who encouraged me.  I didn’t even notice what they were wearing.   They didn’t come up to me and try and talk like me (that would have been weird).  They just…. encouraged me.


Young people need to know they have what it takes to make it in life.  They need US to tell them.  They don’t need our critical glares at their shortcomings.  A smile, an approving nod is what they crave.   Every time we do this for them, their future gets a little bit brighter.   I read a great quote by Chari Gambill on twitter:


“The size of your world, relationships, opportunities, ministry is connected to the size of the welcome mat you lay at the entrance to your life”


Let that be said of us in how we relate to the young people around us.  And when they find themselves to be 36, THEY will look back and remember those pivotal moments when you and I cheered them on.


Maybe some will be reflecting from a presidents chair…..


So my young friends, today I celebrate you.   I bless every ounce of who you are.  You are known by the Father.  There’s not one part of you that He  hasn’t made and doesn’t adore.  You are special, unique and have something special to offer our world.  LIVE above the norm.   Dream of the difference you can make in someone’s life just by being you.  Grow in the gifts He’s given you and use them for Him.


And remember…. a life a part from God is worth nothing.  Stick with Him more than anything.


You have a cheering squad right here.   Love ya


Don’t let anyone put you down because you’re young.  Teach believers with your life; by word, demeanor, by love by faith by integrity. (I Timothy 4:12)


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