“Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future” is what my youth pastor would say to remind us teenagers that who we chose to surround ourselves with would play a huge role in who we became. Although it’s been years since I was in youth group, I will never forget the wisdom, advice and lessons I learned. As a teenager, I often thought the most important things in life were my reputation, my friends, and who my current boyfriend was. The positive influence from my pastors and mentors helped me discover that there is more to life than that. They helped me understand the value in living for a greater purpose.
I first became a youth leader when I was in high school. After I graduated, I continued my involvement by leading weekly studies, taking students out for coffee and even starting a youth dance team. Nobody told me to get involved, it was something I was passionate about and came naturally to me. My husband and I now serve as the youth pastors of our church. There’s something amazing about finding a partner who cares about the next generation as much as you do. Since 2014, Jake and I have been leading Relentless Student Ministries together, and it’s been an incredible journey.
Through our position as youth pastors, we got connected with North Dakota Youth Ministries (NDYM), the student department of the North Dakota Assemblies of God. This organization invests in the lives of junior high and high school students around the state. Pastors, leaders and volunteers of NDYM work to impact youth on a daily basis. They also organize annual events to create a positive and healthy community for students and position them to have an encounter with God. The mission statement is “Turning Moments into Movements” because a single moment of impact can become a movement that will effect generations to come.
NDYM is my platform because I believe that young people need healthy, positive mentorship in their lives. As Mrs. North Dakota International, I want to educate people on the importance of investing in our youth and utilize my influence to impact any students the crown leads me to. Remember, youth are not just the generation of tomorrow, they matter today and are worth investing in.
A recent study showed that teenagers spend an average of 9 hours a day consuming media, which can be a scary thought, considering all the ways media impacts our society. Whether it’s diving into the details of other people’s lives on Instagram, accessing endless information on the internet, or the constant distraction of applications, games, and shows on their phones, teenagers have a lot vying for their attention. With technology at the forefront of youth culture, there is a lot of texting and not a lot of talking. There’s a lot of snap-chatting, but not a lot of genuine relationships with friends. Now, more than ever, youth need people to pull them away from the screen and encourage them to enjoy life. Young women need confident women to remind them how beautiful they are because they spend hours a day scrolling through highlight reels of people’s lives and are feeling insecure. Young men need mature men to remind them that although the media tries to label them as dumb guys who only think about sex, they don’t have to fall for that trap. As adults, we can sit back, blame social media, technology or Netflix for the problems that youth are facing, or we can step up and be a voice of positivity in a world of negative influence.
I am a living testimony that mentorship yields positive results. I have great parents, but when I was in high school, they were not the first people I wanted to open up to. However, my peers didn’t always have the right tools to guide me through my problems. I needed older and wiser influences to reach out to me during my teenage years. I needed people who cared enough to be part of my life, even if I didn’t always like their involvement. I eventually realized that they understood life differently and I learned to listen to and appreciate them. Ultimately, their friendship shaped my future and I am forever grateful for that.
No matter who you are or where you come from, everyone has something to offer that can impact the next generation. Take your niece out for coffee. Bake brownies for your church’s youth group and attach and encouraging note. Or, volunteer a couple summer days at the local community center to get to know the youth in your town. A simple act of kindness can mean the world to a teenager. In the words of president Jimmy Carter, “I have one life and one chance to make it count for something . . . my faith demands that I do whatever I can, for as long as I can, with whatever I have to try to make a difference.” So, let’s make a difference together.
Click here >>> http://www.ndyouth.com to learn more about North Dakota Youth Ministries.
Mrs. North Dakota International 2017