I apologize for hurting your eyes… but thought someone might enjoy a little sneak peak at the profundity of my whiteboard art in our Faith Development of Youth class today.
* Many sociologists or adolescent educators will place "Spiritual" as a fifth deminsion of adolescent development. I consider "spiritual" as more encompassing, however. I believe that God created each of us, cares for each of us, and knows each of us more profoundly than we will ever know ourselves (Psalm 139). So, as we age, every aspect of our lives is both foundationally and sustainably saturated in spiritual development. Perhaps that reality is not more readily evident, or at least more readily explored, than in the life of an adolescent.
So I won't draw a teenager who is standing upright with arms folded as if "fully developed adult" is the aim of adolescent development. There is no such thing as a fully developed person on this planet. Each of us has certain deficiencies and shortcomings, not the least of which is sin. But we each also have incredible capacities for relationship and productivity in our unique personalities and experiences, individually and collectively. So for this reason, I see each person, and perhaps most especially teenagers, on a full-out marathon of discovery, running after/towards God's shaping hands.
Never satisfied to stand still, I think we should encourage young people to be always seeking to discover God's pattern for their lives in terms of their physical(body/sex), cognitive (intellectual), affective (emotional), and social (culture/identity/etc) development. Of course, in my opinion, all of this is wrapped in a Deuteronomy 6 typology, an environment where God's Spirit and God's Word are always present and always leaned upon. And I also assume that it is through the input of committed, passionate fellow-runners that youth will be most fulfilled by/in their journey.
In the midst of the intense upheavals and eruptions and wonders of the adolescent years, we need to boldly go where few have been willing to go in our North American society: alongside teenagers. Some people already have entered this fray, for best intentions or for alterior motives (e.g. think $$, ill-will, or power). The significant influencers (such as parents, peers, pop culture, "peducation" – my "p" term for schools, and pastors – my term for other Christians who intentionally invest in the lives of young people), must be equipped/examined/understood to provide teenagers with the proper training environment and appropriate participatory opportunities to run the race with endurance, with passion, and with focus.
Or something like that! 🙂 Anyways, thought some of you might be interested to see how we began class today.