A friend posted on Facebook yesterday this note, “PSA: Bathroom graffiti now has a purpose. At the high school where I take my community college class, students write their Instagram handles on the toilet dispensers. I’ll no longer feel bad about my lack of followers in comparison to my sister.” How many times have we checked IG or FB just to see how many likes we have? I’ve done it, I get it. Technology has happened to us so fast in the past 10 years that we’re just now learning to embrace it with intentionality. I can only imagine what it must be like for today’s teenagers. Teens have grown up in a world with “likes.” It’s important to note the intentionality of the previous sentence. I will state it again and I’d encourage you to ponder its meaning. A hint: it’s not teens and not “likes.”
Teens have grown up in a world with “likes.”
A world… A world that is influenced by you and I. A world… with the innocence and curious spirit of a little 4-year-old girl (see yesterdays blog post). We are born in the image and likeness of God. The world tells us how it wants us to be liked. As humans, we desire to be respected, appreciated and loved but lines have gotten blurred. The good news is we can all be lights in this world. Lights to be agents for the common good.
You see it’s not about the teens because of the little four-year old girl. Teens and adolescents have to learn behaviors from someone. The spirit within in her innocence told me that she cared about me. Her actions told me that we’re born innately with a heart for others. The little red-head girl spoke with her touch that she wants to live in a we not a me world. That leaves us with the challenge: Parents, Brothers and Sisters are we being the light, the example of goodness, the models of the we world we want to live in. The we world we want our children and future children to live in.
Friends are starting to get married and have children; I’ve been thinking a lot about the we world my children will live in. Frankly, the we world I will live in 30 years. Sunday night, I went to the movie theaters with my dad. Half way through the movie, my dad and I walked out. Kids started killing adults. Moreover, when I first saw the Hunger Games… I thought this is kids killing kids! Really?! And now, “13 Reasons Why” is about to hit the main stage on a larger scale. I don’t need to share more examples of the world we live in because the premise is creating the we world we want to live in. The world we can influence and here’s how.
I had lunch with an older wise friend the other day and he said, “Watch the Sandlot or October Sky instead of the shoot em’ up movies.” The same gentleman gave me a book to read, “Uncommon Life: Daily Challenge” by Tony Dungy. Since our Panera lunch, I’ve found it easy to read (one page per day, ‘come on man!’) and influence my thoughts/actions in a positive way for the world. Heck, it influenced me to write this blog today!
Today’s page reads: “April 4th. How am I suppose to love and pray for the New England Patriots… Make sure Christ is at the center of your universe, not you. The truth is, how many of us have problems loving the people who love us? We hold grudges, fail to forgive, get angry and refuse to pray for our enemies. You can’t forgive, do good, and love fully without Him, but He never asked you to. He showed you through the cross how to do all of that – with and through Him.”
In addition, I heard internationally renowned speaker, Matthew Kelly say, “We have a guide-book for how to live. We can create the world we want to live in by reading just 10 minutes or a chapter a day of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and/or John. The gospel in the Holy Bible give us a blueprint for how to live and be the best version of ourselves.”
In the short time I’ve written this blog post within my Starbucks office, I’ve experienced the challenge we face. I’ve experienced three opportunities within the past 30 minutes where we had the choice to influence the world we want to live in. The first came from a senior lady. She looked at me from in the waiting line at Starbucks. In a non creepy way (hopefully lol), I smiled back at her. She returned the action I wanted to see in the world… A smiling world. The second came from a young man who was wearing big beat’s by dre (giant noise cancelling headphones). I gave him a head knod of acknowledgement and he reciprocated with a simple grin. It may not have been much but who knows what a simple acknowledgement would’ve meant in his world. The last came from a business man. He sat next to me for a brief moment as he was waiting for his coffee at the bar. He pulled out his glasses and began to open his Wall Street Journal newspaper. A simple, “Good Morning!” He replied, “Good Morning.” These were three opportunities where we had the choice to create a we world. Where have you had opportunities this morning to create a we world? Instead, I chose to be an agent for the common good and create a we world. Small daily habits that help create the world our future children will live in.
Parents, brothers and sisters we influence the world our teens grow up in. It’s up to us to guide a moral compass. It’s up to us to put the phone down and smile at the child next to us. Their presence and existence is far more important than checking who “liked” our latest post. I’ve fallen many times into me and it’s up to us to help each other live servant leader lives. It starts with me. It starts with we!
The good news… Last night, I had the opportunity to speak with a group of young teenagers who were being sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit. Parents, Godparents, Sponsors, family, friends, community and the Bishop were all there to support these young teens as they embark upon a Christ centered life. Our we world begins with love. It is strengthened with technological intentionality, daily positive influential reading and surrounding ourselves around people who fuel our inner goodness.