What I wish all teenagers understood
"Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner." - Leo Tzu
I have been serving as a full-time youth minister for close to five years. In my experience thus far, I have had the chance to see many teens flourish and bloom into what God has called them to be.
On the other hand, I have also witnessed many young people be plagued with stress, low self - esteem and overall just a poor sense of identity about who they are as a child of God. It's a real bummer to watch.
Outside of the crazy situations that are a reality in this world, the most common reason why teenagers get tripped up in this way is because they care way too much about what people think about them.
Whether it be their peers, coaches, or even their parents, teens tend to put a high priority on others' opinions about them. In doing so, it often results in them changing their actions and interests to align with whatever their peers think they should be.
That's a sad reality. In our youth ministry specifically, we have some solid and creative kids who love the Lord. They are incredible individuals with awesome personalities. Yet they let the world stick a finger in their face and tell them they're weird, lame, different, or whatever.
So to all of the young people reading this, remember: People's opinion of you is less about you and more about their insecurities.
Plus, If you live on other people's approval, you will die by their disapproval.
Outside of anything sinful or counter to your faith walk, don't let anybody try to dictate that you need to talk a certain way, post a certain way, dress a certain way or act a certain way.
It's usually just a result of the fact that they either: don't understand you, are insecure about themselves, are just a mean person, or all of the above. Either way, don't listen to them.
Plus, you won't even see 95% of these people after your graduation!
God created you as a unique individual (Psalm 139:13) - embrace that. If you were supposed to be just like a certain person then God would have made two of them. But he didn't - he made you.
Be happy with who you are and how God made you. God loves the real you, not who you pretend to be to please your peers.