I was at work yesterday and a middle school camper said something that really disturbed me. They said, “Nicki Manaj really speaks to our generation. She is my role model.” I was blown away. Out of all the possibilities for them like their parents, a teacher, a pastor, or a family member, they chose Nicki Manaj as their role model. It makes me sad that our society is currently in that state. A middle schooler feels that Nicki Manaj is a prime example of how she should model her life. I knew that young people are a generation that needed some love, but yesterday really opened my eyes to how bad it is.
I have known since I was in high school that God has called me to minister to young people. I think teenagers are a population that is often overlooked. In many churches, the youth group seems to be at the bottom of the totem pole. I’ve seen a lot of youth pastors who took on the role simply as a stepping stone to become a head pastor. Teenagers are a group that most people get annoyed at rather than love, yet they are the ones that could benefit from our love the most. There has been a lot of research, including studies by The Barna Group, that show that most people make a decision about Jesus before they are twenty-one. Teenagers should be at the forefront of our ministries, not an afterthought.
There are two things that really disturbed me about the Nicki Manaj comment. It is a both a reflection of where teenagers are and a reflection of the adults who are leading them. I can’t say I completely blame teenagers for looking up to someone like Nicki Manaj. They live in a society that glorifies that personality and lifestyle. It disappoints me that I can play a TobyMac song at after school and a majority of the kids look at me wondering what on earth I am playing. On the contrary, I can play a Lil Wayne song and pretty much every kid there can sing along and knows all the words. Is there really no one in this kid’s life that is has a good enough relationship with them that they can look up to them? Where are the adults to step in and put an end to this? Sadly, most of them are right there with the teenagers, glorifying stuff that really has no place in our society. I’m not saying an adult should be there to scold them, but there should be someone showing them so much love that they are drawn to it.
We wonder why our teenagers are struggling with so many sins, but we allow all of this garbage to be put into their lives. If we want to really make an impact, then it is time to clean up the trash. I’m not saying everyone is called to be in youth ministry or to directly work with youth, but that doesn’t mean you can’t play a role. Maybe you can help tutor a teen. Maybe you could get your teen plugged into a good youth group. Maybe you could help support a ministry, like JCTV, that is reaching out to teenagers. Maybe instead of getting annoyed with teens, you could pray for them. Ephesians 5:1 tells us to “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children.” Teenagers are looking for someone to imitate. I think it is time for Christians to step up and stop letting people like Nicki Manaj be the role models.
until next time…