I posted an open letter on Thursday last week. The letter came after a meeting with some confirmation parents, who just looked absolutely exhausted. We were going over the requirements of confirmation class, and this is usually a rough spot for parents of over committed teens, but this time was different in two ways: 1) It wasn't just a few parents, it was all of them and 2) they looked like they were hating every minute.
This after a few conversations with students about their academic and extracurricular activities, and the best way I can possibly explain these students is that they are on the verge of burnout. Not tired. Not weary. Burnout. Of course it's not everyone, and of course there are exceptions to the rule. But there are enough students struggling that I have begun to take notice.
When I met with youth leaders over lunch on Thursday (after I had written the article), the conversation came up again. Then on Saturday I had the conversation about over-commitment with friends. Then on Sunday with another parent. Then yesterday with another student here at the seminary. What on Wednesday started as a "huh, wonder what's up?" conversation has become for me a "yes, something is absolutely going on in the lives of our teenagers" situation.
The church has fought with other activities since, well, the soccer ball was invented. You must know that my intentions here are not to grow my youth group, to steal kids away from their sports of choice, to pad my own numbers and ego. At the moment, I couldn't care less about my numbers. What I care about is this:
12 “Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you. 13 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest, as you do. 15 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day. (Deuteronomy 5:12-15)
32 It is a day of sabbath rest for you, and you must deny yourselves. From the evening of the ninth day of the month until the following evening you are to observe your sabbath.” (Leviticus 23:32)
27 Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. (Mark 2:27)
We need rest, and we're not getting it. Our students are being taught to worship at the altar of busy-ness from the beginning. Maybe it's getting worse, or maybe we're just starting to notice it. Either way, I think it's pretty safe to say that something's going on.
What do you think?