Investing in the Next Generation

“Pastors ask me, “Where did u get all those young leaders?” I invested in them when they were teens that nobody wanted!” -Willie George

I am at youth camp right now with a bunch of teenagers! I love it! I’ve been working with teenagers for over 8 years! It’s been a blast and I am just starting to see the returns on some of my investments in the next generation. It’s an amazing thing. I thought I’d share with you some things I’ve learned about investing in the next generation:

Investing in the Next Generation is Always Worth it – it may not always seem like it. It may not always seem like they care or that they are paying attention, but they do and they are.

You Don’t Always See the Return on Your Investment until Years Later -Some of the most rewarding days of my life are when I see students that were in our youth ministry years ago, and they come back and talk about what God is doing in their life and how thankful they were for people who invested in them while they were young.

The Next Generation is the Future – When you invest in the next generation, you’re investing in something that will outlive you! You’re creating the future. You’re creating your legacy.

The Next Generation will Help Keep You Relevant if You Invest in Them – One day, I won’t be as cool as I am now. I don’t really believe that, but it’s probably true! One day, I’ll need to rely on the next generation to help me connect and reach their generation as well as the one coming up behind them.

When You Invest in the Next Generation, You Never Know Who You’re Investing In – John Maxwell tells the story often of having Larry Bird in his church’s youth ministry. He said, “Do you think if I knew I had Larry Bird in my youth ministry, I would have spent more time with him?”

This is one of my favorite pictures. It was taken in 2006. On the left is Zack Blair, a great friend that now oversees the youth and young adult ministries at Victory! I’m on the right. In the middle is Pastor Larry Bettencourt. Pastor Larry invested in Zack and I when we were young and right out of high school. He believed in us, invested in us, and gave us opportunities that we would have never had otherwise.

It’s been 8 or 9 years since PL invested in us. In the beginning we were two 18 year old kids, now it’s 10 years later and we’re both doing great things. At the time, Pastor Larry probably had no idea what we would be doing with the investment he made in us. The reality is, when you invest in something or someone, you don’t know what they’re going to do with the investment, if they do anything at all. However, I’m convinced that we wouldn’t be where we are today if Pastor Larry didn’t invest in us in spite of the risk involved.

Who invested in you when you were young? Who were the teachers, youth pastors, and coaches that made an impact in your life?

Let’s pay that forward. Invest in the next generation. Go for it. The payoff is always worth it in the end!

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