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Spirituality describes the orientation of one's life. One may live for self or for a distorted and idolized portion of the universe. Thus, all "isms" are spiritualities of sorts. Or one may center oneself in God, the ultimate reality. Judeo-Christian spirituality describes the way to relate to God, serve others, and find wholeness. The desert Fathers in the early Christian centuries describe spirituality: being yourself, serving or praying for others, and remembering God.

Being oneself is realizing all God created one to be, all Christ redeemed one to be, and all the Holy Spirit empowers one to be. It entails becoming all that baptism marked one to be. It implies leaving all that hinders this realization as one is crucified, buried, and risen with the Savior. This spirituality is freedom to be all that one is meant to be in the Spirit.

Christian spirituality is a life for others, the Christ life. It is proof that "it is more blessed to give than to receive." Increasingly, the object of prayer is to see God and to lift others to Him.

There is no better advice to the one who would be spiritual than to remember God. Do not strive for a "spiritual life." Rather, nurture a relationship with God. He wants friendship and love.

To help anyone grow in spirituality, observe how they relate to their closest love objects at their particular age and situation. Adolescents are very relational. It is easy to study their relationships. They can soon understand faith as a personal relationship. But there is a great range in adolescent growth and maturity. The youth pastor should be knowledgeable and sensitive to adolescent development and differences.

To encourage adolescent spirituality consider: how to pray (relate and converse with God), how to worship (celebrate, give thanks and offering), how to share (fellowship, grow into a community of trust and concern), and how to serve (exercise gifts and love). Of course, belief has a great deal to do with spirituality. This issue discusses faith development. Be concerned with truth as it is found in Scripture, as it has been interpreted in the historic life of the Church, and as it is being experienced in the integrity of the individual.



  1. Among the many roles of a youth leader, may one be that of a spiritual advisor.
  2. The spiritual advisor of young people must combine a theological and psychological understanding of spirituality with sensitivity and an intuitive sense of where his or her young friends are in their life and faith development.
  3. There is perhaps no greater harm one can do than to "cause one of these young ones to stumble" in the matter of their life perspective. There is no greater gift one can give than to help a young friend-at that particular age when parents and pastors may be least effective-to find a centering of his or her being and wholeness of life in God.

Dean Borgman cCYS