Pastor's Duty to the Youth

Statistics show that the large majority of young people who become Christians and join the church do so during the adolescent period. Pastors should take advantage of this information.

By ANDREW E. HIGGINS, Pastor, Provo, Utah

Statistics show that the large majority of young people who become Christians and join the church do so during the adolescent period. These years are a challenge to every pastor and leader of youth. If ever in the his­tory of this earth youth were in need of kind counsel and sympathetic guidance, they are now. We are living in a time when everything seems to be topsy-turvy, in a time of turmoil and strife, such as never was known before. The times in which we live are not normal, and thinking pastors, teachers, and parents should realize this.

Here is a definite challenge to our sanest thinking. In our dealing with this puzzled gen­eration of young people, we as pastors and teachers must recognize a call to the most sym­pathetic understanding and the kindest guid­ance that we can render to the youth. The con­verted hearts of our youth are of inestimable value in the sight of heaven.

I would call to your attention a verse of Scripture found in I Kings 20:40. It reads thus, "And as thy servant was busy here and there, he was gone." Let us get the setting for this text. On an ancient battlefield a soldier was detailed to guard a certain prisoner. When he was asked to present his charge, he could only answer, "As thy servant was busy here and there, he was gone." What a predicament to be in !—untrue to duty, negligent, undepend­able, and irresponsible. I would that God today would make us more conscious of our responsi­bilities.

The duties of a pastor in holding the young people of his church are many and varied, but I will mention only four. .

First, the pastor must secure the co-operation of the parents if his work is to be thoroughly effective. No pastor can succeed satisfactorily unless he can get their undivided attention in this matter. They must work together for the salvation of the youth. We should ponder well the words of Horace Bushnell from his classic work Christian Nurture. "The child is to grow up a Christian, and never know himself to be otherwise." Certain other statements from this book also call for emphasis, as well as one from the Spirit of prophecy.

"Home and religion are kindred words: home, be­cause it is the seat of religion; religion, because it is the sacred element of home." "Family religion makes the families so many little churches." "The house hav­ing in it a domestic spirit of grace, should become the church of childhood." "A house without a roof would scarcely be a more indifferent home than a family without religion."

"Parents should keep ever before their minds the object to be gained,—the perfection of the characters of their children. Those parents who educate their children aright, weeding from their lives every unruly trait, are fitting them to become missionaries for Christ."—Counsels to Teachers, p. 162.

Second, the pastor must secure the support of the entire church if his program for the youth is to be strengthened. Many church members do not feel any obligation or sacred responsibility in connection with the youth of the church. Perhaps it is because they do not have children of their own. But should that be any cause for neglect ? Notice these striking words from the pen of inspiration.

"God has appointed the church as a watchman, to have a jealous care over the youth and children, and as a sentinel to see the approach of the enemy and give warning of danger. But the church does not realize the situation. She is sleeping on guard. In this time of peril, fathers and mothers must arouse and work as for life, or many of the youth will be forever lost."—Ibid., p. 165.

The third duty I have delegated to the pastor is that he must win the love, confidence, and respect of the young people. The pastor must not win their friendship through compromise of principle at any time. The high and lofty ideals of Christian integrity are to be maintained at all cost. The pastor should never al­low himself to be a jellyfish when principle is involved, even though friendship may be at stake. In short, he must be an example of the high standards of our denomination, whether in church or out of church.

The fourth and last point may be summed up in a few words. The pastor must be ready and willing at all times to work, play, study, and pray with the young people. He must let them know that he is interested in their mental, spir­itual and physical welfare.

A good pastor must be a versatile creature. He must be able to help the young people with their work and problems, whether it be repair­ing a lawn mower, overhauling a bicycle, or repairing a tennis racket. He must be ready to give them help on personal problems of a spiritual nature or any other kind.

Fellow pastors, we must help build that bridge of character that will fit our youth for the earth to come. Characters are being built day by day. They will be good or bad, depend­ing on the training they receive. It is up to us as pastors to help build characters that will span the tide of evil. Notice the thought ex­pressed in the poem "The Bridge Builder."

"An old man going a lone highway Came in the evening cold and gray To a chasm vast and deep and wide. The old man crossed in the twilight dim, The sullen stream had no fears for him, But he stopped when safe on the other side And built a bridge to span the tide.

" 'Old man,' said a fellow pilgrim near.

'You are wasting your strength with building here;

Your journey will end with the ending day,

You never again will pass this way;

You've crossed the chasm, deep and wide,

Why build you this bridge at evening tide?'

"The builder lifted his old gray head;

'Good friend, in the path Chave come,' he said,

'There followeth after- me today

A youth whose feet must pass this way.

This chasm which has been as naught to me

To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be;

He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;

Good friend, I am building a bridge for him!' "


From Quotable Poems. Reproduced by permis­sion of publishers, Willett, Clark & Co., Chicago.

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By ANDREW E. HIGGINS, Pastor, Provo, Utah

January 1947

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