I absolutely love working with college age young people!! Their energy and creativity is contagious. Many of our students are ready and willing to participate in outreaches and activities. They do a tremendous job! There are many times these same students will commit or sign-up for something. You even send out a reminder and then there are some who are a no show. What happened you ask. Where were you? The most common response is “I forgot”. I have heard this so many times it is not even funny. How many times can you use the excuse, “I forgot” before it is no longer effective? You can only use this response in a work place a couple times before you will find your way out the front door looking for another job. Too many times with friends or associates and they will no longer count on you as reliable. “I forgot” will find you wondering why you are not asked to do anything anymore.
I was talking with one of our student leaders today about this very thing. She said “I forgot” is a real thing. It is a real excuse. We will now say “I forgot and this is real” jokingly. I can say this and laugh but also cry. I can easily get aggravated and upset about the lack of dedication. I can get frustrated with these students labeling them as unreliable and not able to count on them for anything. Then I begin to question myself, “Why do I even try?” Discouragement can come easily. What should we do?
Patience, patience, patience!!! Remember how patient Jesus was with those twelve disciples of His? Wow, could they mess things up and get things completely wrong. Their priorities were definitely out of sorts sometimes. The three and a half years spent with Jesus in the school of discipleship was a time of training. Training is hard work on both sides. It takes a tremendous amount of patience and mercy.
The 18-22 year old age frame is a training stage. These young people are not quite adults ready to accept full responsibility yet, but not wanting to be teenagers anymore either. It is a transition stage that can be very complicated. Some transitions are smooth and easy. Most are more complicated. It takes time. We must remember that many of these young people are still young and immature fresh out of high school. Most students are under a heavy load with school and work. School requires a lot out of their mental capacity and time. Organizing may not be their strong spot. Being prompt and faithful to what they have committed to may not seem very important yet. These are all areas that we need to be patient with. At the same time these are all areas that we need to teach the importance of being reliable, trustworthy, and prompt. We must help these young people transition from being teenagers into faithful adults that God can use. God’s Word has much to say about these areas.
If students seem unfaithful and unreliable do not give up on them. If students give you the “I forgot” again and again take a breath and continue praying, guiding, and teaching. Sometimes it is a real “I forgot”. The demands of school will cloud out or take priority over a previous engagement. A student may genuinely forget. Will this work in real life as an adult? No, you only get a couple of those. We must help these young people see the importance of managing their schedule and commitments. You are a vital link in this transition.
Its all about discipleship. It is messy and can honestly be stressful a times. There is such a noticeable change from the freshman stage to the junior and senior stage. Many of our “I forgot” students become some of the most faithful dedicated students. Be amazed as you watch students grow in their faith and in their character. Be patient and do not get discouraged if students disappoint you at times. This is just a part of transitioning into a responsible adult. Think about yourself at this age and stage in life and those who were patient with you.
P.s. Unfortunately, there will always be some people who are just unreliable and lazy no matter what you do. I’m sure you have known some of those even as adults.