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Making a difference: the impact of volunteers on the next generation

Abby Trent, left, and Krysta Jordan embrace at a graduation party. (Photo/Chris Trent, GBMB)
Abby Trent, left, and Krysta Jordan embrace at a graduation party. (Photo/Chris Trent, GBMB)
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Boom, just like that, my youngest has graduated high school. One would think that as a youth pastor having worked with teenagers for over 30 years, I’d not be surprised by this moment where so many things seem to be coming to an end. Truthfully, I’m not really sad about seeing her graduate and prepare to take her next steps and causing my wife and I to add "empty nester" to our long list of titles. Oh, I’m going to miss her, BIG TIME. But we’re ready to see her fly. I’m blessed to have a daughter that loves the Lord and I see in her a longing to start living her life so she can make a difference in the world for Jesus.

Where does that come from?

We all know that ultimately our kid’s love for the Lord comes from His blessing and their choosing to follow Him. I’m grateful that God the Father has made Himself known to my children and they have both chosen to say yes to Him through Jesus.

We also know that parents play a huge role in helping to form a Godly foundation through discipleship. While my wife and I are far from perfect, our children know we love Jesus and allow God’s call on our lives to impact every area of our lives. They’ve seen us follow Him both through the good times and bad.

But, perhaps one of the often overlooked and under appreciated impacts on our kid’s love for the Lord is the impact Godly adults have had on their lives. I was greatly reminded of this last weekend during my daughter’s graduation party. It was a typical party where lots of teenagers stopped by to wish her happy graduation. Lots of laughter and selfies and free chicken minis.

Then I started to notice something that filled my soul with gratitude. There were adults coming to her party that didn’t even have teenagers. They were showing up because they loved my daughter and at some point had said YES to pouring into her life. There were former small group leaders, her current small group leader, adults whose kids she had babysit for, youth pastors, her ballet teacher, and family friends. It occurred to me that they all had an important role in my daughter’s love for the Lord.

So, to the volunteers who choose to pour their lives into children and teenagers, I just want to say thanks. Thank you for all of the challenging moments that come with volunteering to work with the next generation. Thank you for sacrificing your own personal time because of God’s calling on your life to invest in the next generation. Thank you for saying yes.

I genuinely believe that your investment will live on in the lives of those children and teenagers that you point to Jesus as they live their lives for the Lord.

Oh… and if you’re reading this and you’re not volunteering to work with the next generation, what are you waiting for? Call your children’s or youth ministry leader today and let them know you’re ready.

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Chris Trent is the Next Gen Catalyst for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board

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