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This past weekend I served alongside others at my church youth group fall retreat. Friday evening we packed up about 90 students and headed down to Falls Creek for a fun-filled weekend.

It’s been a little while since I’ve spent an extended amount of time with teenagers so I was eager to get to know our group on a more personal level and hear their hearts for the Lord.

Now, looking back at our fun-filled and sleepless weekend, one truth reigns supreme. This generation needs love and attention.

Often, as young people today, Millennials are looked down upon. Whether it’s someone chastising them for being on their phones constantly, acting out with their friends, being too vocal/loud or simply being different, older generations don’t approve.

But what is the common theme among the list of behaviors I named?

Let’s break it down.

What is it Millennials are always doing on their phones? You see them with their heads down, unengaged with the people surrounding them. And while I don’t condone disregarding the people around you, because it is rude, what you DON’T see is that teenager texting a best friend who just moved away in order to keep their friendship going.

What you don’t see about the teenager that’s acting out is their home-life where they receive little-to-no attention. The only the attention they might receive may be negative, deprecating or even abusive. Maybe all they need is a friend, and the Lord has put you there at that very moment in time to be that friend.

What you may not realize about the loud teenager is a human being just wanting to be heard. Have you/we taken time to stop and listen to what they’re shouting before we disregard them completely? Encouraging engagement in current events and the world around them can insure an education voice, whether it’s shouting or standing silent.

What you don’t understand about the teenager that dresses in all black or has a funky hair  that won’t ever help them get a job, is an artist using God’s creation as their canvas. We can all look back at some time in our teenage years and regret a fashion choice we made; don’t steal that laughter from this future generation.

These are all things I had to remind myself this weekend when there were times I became impatient or just wanted peace and quiet for one second.

I stopped and looked at these wonderful people the Lord has made to be our future and thanked him for their willing hearts to learn more about Him.

1 Timothy 4:12 says, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” 

As older generations, making a way for Millennials, don’t be the people to look down on anyone because they are young.

Lead the way in setting examples for these young believers in your daily speech, in how you conduct yourself in less-than-ideal situations. Love these Millennials without holding back. Show your unwavering faith and how the Lord is faithful and good to those who put their trust in Him. Present pure hearts of worship and praise to our High King.

Next time you see any of the above-mentioned characteristics or any i’ve missed, instead of running and hiding, see if there is a way you can offer love and guidance to a Millennial. I know you’ll find, while they may be a little stinky and/or sleep-deprived after a weekend at Falls Creek, they’re not that bad after all.