When people say the words “young people” they are really saying
“youngpeople.” One word, as a noun. Try it, out loud say young people
the way you would normally say it. Why does this matter? Because when
you say “youngpeople” instead of young people, you change the meaning
of the words.
Youngpeople are a kind of quazi-human creature that are outside of the
realm of normal expectations. On one hand we don’t expect a whole lot
from them. We’re just glad they come to church and don’t have drugs in
their pocket. On the other hand we expect perfection from them. “The
‘youngpeople’ should be the supreme example of what a person should be
as a Christian. Their friends and family and the entire world are
watching them and may be turned away from God if these “youngpeople”
don’t do it exactly right.” I am exaggerating (a little) but you get
Let’s look at the term the way we should, though. They are young, and
they are people. I’m not trying to be sarcastic and yes, I know this is
a simple concept, but it could change the way you relate to your
They are young. This means they aren’t going to have a lot of wisdom
because they haven’t lived long enough to develop it. It means they are
going to trust freely (for a while) and trust the wrong people and the
right people. They are going to be fiercely loyal to their ideas, their
music, their friends and the other things that make up their identity.
They are going to be reckless and impulsive. The reason they are is
because they don’t have a lot to lose. All of the investment has been
from their parents. That’s not wrong or abnormal, it’s youth. Think
maybe God designed them like that so they would be willing to go out
and change the world? Do you remember when you thought you could do
anything? They are going to be passionate. Your job isn’t to shut this
all down and make them like you, they are not miniature adults, they
don’t think like you because they don’t have all of the risks you have.
Your job is to help them harness all of this energy and power, yes
power, and point them in the right direction so they can make a
difference in their world.
They are people. They are going to do amazing things, normal things and
incredibly stupid things. They are going to be subject to their
emotions, peer pressure (you still are), ups and downs and everything
else everybody goes through. Don’t put them in the “youngpeople”
category and limit them to that paradigm. They are people, created by
God for a purpose with a capacity for greatness, but the propensity for
failure. Expect greatness, but don’t expect perfection.
Excerpt from Cardboard
Astronaut by Armando Heredia. Armando serves as a youth pastor and is a
full-time student pursuing a B.A. in Secondary Ed.