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Celebrating the character of our youth (while encouraging them in their gifts and talents)

      Celebrating the character of our youth

How often we are filled with pride by the moving vocals, muscianship, artistic and/or athletic achievements of our youth and stedfastly encourage them to reach for the skies with the goal of achieving greatness in every level of their creative endeavors.

At social gatherings, religious or civic events, even at Grandma"s 88th birthday celebration, we enlist them to showcase their gifts and talents to every available seeing eye and listening ear.   We desire that all present and those who may hear of them in the future, know that their gifts and talents place them in a realm of being "special"  and obviously, are deserving of a certain level of favor and affirmation, as a result there of.

We reward them for their abilities with a significant amount of attention, if it is in regards to sports, we buy them the best equipment, we attend all their sporting events, we buy and proudly wear their team shirts and accessories, while driving miles to  declare how proud we are of them. 

But the clear and present danger that exists, is sometimes we have made what they do.....equally, or even worse, more important than the type of person they are, or the person they are becoming.  We all want our teens to be "good people".  We openly admit this and the importance thereof.  But when we celebrate their gifts and talents more than we celebrate good character choices or behaviors, we are undermining our concern for who they will become.  Sadly, it is often because, this is what our parents did with us and what their parents did to them.

We introduce our daughter, Melissa, to friends and acquaintances beaming with pride, rapidly firing out that she carries a 3.0, she is on the gymnastics team, she models or is singing lead in the next performance by the church or community choir.  These things are wonderful, but they are not essential to her character.  There is no denial that their can be gifts that require discipline and/or if recognized, other character strengthening traits.  But this is contingent upon the youth and the choices he or she makes.

      Do we share with our youth how honored we are by the good character choices they make?

Do we passionately support them for giving of themselves, coming to terms with a destructive behavior, spending time with someone who may be less desirable then rolling with their friends.  Truly, what is more important, if our teen becomes the next American Idol or shares their time and energy for a good cause?  We must help them define themselves through God's love and His character and not the world's standards. 

                                      A beautiful singing voice is not more important than being honest. 

                         Breaking track and field records is not more important than treating people fairly .

                         Does having a great grade point average, subsidize the fact that one is selfish and rude?

There is no denial that ultimately our teens will make their own choices as they continue the journey into the age of accountability.  Even the choices they make as adults solely weigh on their will to choose and the standards and values they make these choices from.  This is why relevant Bible studies are so important

We as parents, custodial guardians, mentors, those in Christian leadership must do everything we can to place emphasis on what is really important, that hopefully in the long run,  our youth will make choices that usher them into  citizens of Godly character.

                                  If we do not want our youth to lose sight of what is important,
                                               we must encourage and reward what is.