Sometimes it’s weird hearing stories of the kids I grew up with. I was chatting with my family this evening. So-and-so (a gal friend) is in Oxford, going to school. So-and-so says that we’re condensing to one service on Sundays, instead of two. So-and-so said this or that. Stuff like that: the general news of people and their lives.

And then I hear other stories, ones I wish I didn’t. I used to know this family (a lot of childhood history there). Two of their sons have live-in girlfriends and kids by them. What?! I thought. Back in middle school, I used to tease one of my gal friends about the eldest boy. And I remember once, he flirted with me in front of his girlfriend, and I thought: How uncool is that?  And now… live-in girlfriends and kids.

How did THAT happen?

“Where are they going to church now?” I ask my family.

“They’re not–going to church.”

I hate when my world shifts like this.

One of my guy friends, back in elementary (until he got teased for being my friend, and then he stopped being friends with me) had a mom who was a leader to us middle schoolers. Then, something happened. She left her husband and son–my friend. She left all of us, and my heart hurt.

I saw her in the mall, months later, and she had that hard look on her face. I hated it. I hated it.

She shook our world. I remember when our high school pastor told us the basics, and that we shouldn’t be taking any spiritual advice from her right now, because she wasn’t walking with the Lord.

And my heart broke. And my world shifted. And I felt disillusioned.

I know the devil goes after the leaders. Sometimes, that’s what frightens me about being a youth leader. But most times, it just makes me want to do the right thing even more. I want to be an example to these kids. I want to share my stories with them. I want to bless their middle school years as much as my own were blessed.

There are so many of the young adults at Calvary who look up to me. Many, I’ve helped out with since I was nineteen. Even more, since they were two years old, and small enough to carry.

These young men and women? They are going to be the next generation. I am young like them, but old–so old–in so many other ways. And they will all look up to me, and remember how I lived my life.

Help me be an example to them. Let us be leaders they can look up to. Please.