Jennifer Gates, Cooperative Youth And Family Ministry Director
“A leader’s job is not to do the work for others, it’s to help others figure out how to do it themselves, to get things done, and to succeed beyond what they thought possible.”
– Simon Sinek
For the past twenty years, between January 30 and April 4, an international celebration of peace known as “A Season for Non-Violence”, has been observed around the world. Recognizing the impact of international peace heroes, this 10-week period of time offers opportunities for spreading the message of peace in our world. This year, at Unity of San Antonio, our youth ministry department has chosen to dedicate our class time to weekly study of concepts such as gratitude, service, courage, mission and peace. Through stories and creative projects, our children and teens have examined these complex topics in ways that bring these ideas to life for them, and many lively discussions have echoed through our classrooms.
As I have listened in on the youthful conversations and watched our young people dive into these very powerful topics, I have been touched by the depth of their convictions and the quality of their thoughts. When viewed on the larger canvas of our current social and political backdrop, the path of our UCSA youth has caused me to think about what it means to be a young person in today’s world.
How often, especially in recent media accounts, have we heard about the supposed immaturity or misguided efforts of young people in our world? Weekly accounts of the alleged shortcomings and selfish acts of American youth are held up as examples of the failure of parents or role models in these people’s lives. On the surface, this information seems discouraging, but here’s the thing – this is where the good news starts! As students and followers of Unity Principles, each of us knows that we are capable of not only shedding light upon this issue but Being the Light!
This good news is two-fold. First, in my day-to-day encounters with young people across our city and within the walls of our UCSA commUNITY, I see people who are not only ready but extremely willing to be forces for good in the world around them. I see passion and courage; I see strength and vision. Our world is filled with eager, young minds — ready to be a force of positive change around them, and often all that is missing is a roadmap showing them how to put their plans into proactive action. This is where we, as loving, intentional, light-filled adults are called to step up as leaders and mentors.
To illustrate the role that any one of us can step into, consider the upcoming service project that our Youth & Family Ministry is embarking upon. Over the next seven weeks, our children and teens will be working on an Easter Card Project for our friends down the road at the Pecan Hill Apartments. Instead of simply creating a project from the adult volunteers’ perspective, we have given our teens the reins on this project. Arming them with a few reminders about the timeline they have to work with and some parameters and ideas for brainstorming their project, we have provided them with a written template and are awaiting their details on how to accomplish this service project before Easter Sunday arrives. . Over the coming weeks, our adult volunteers will be available for questions the teens may have and will offer direction when needed. By providing a basic roadmap and our support and then trusting in the teens’ innate wisdom, we create room for our teens to learn and grow
The greatest challenge that we face, as students of Unity, is utilizing our core principles in difficult times — remembering there is only one power in the universe, that we are part and parcel of that power, that we are creative forces in the world who can readily engage in prayerful meditation as we actively live the Truth that we know. When we, as adults, call upon this knowledge and find ways in which to lead by example or mentor the young people in our lives, we help create a future generation of pathfinders; we help establish peaceful discourse in our communities; we actively impact tomorrow’s leaders and the world in which we all we live. This is our challenge, to look upon the generations to follow with admiration for their wisdom, with tolerance for their foibles, and with a willingness to engage them as we actively encourage their progress. After all, we are all in this together, lighting the road ahead.