I remember watching a video taken of me and my daughter when she was about 4 years old. We were at a family function and I was telling my sister-in-law of my career aspirations. On and on I went… I cringe… Carol, my daughter who now is a mother of her own two children and serves with me at 220 Student Ministries, was trying to get my attention about something. You know, tapping me on the shoulder, saying “mom…mom…mom…” and (as I watched, I was so ashamed…) I just flat out ignored her, this precious little one, of whom, Jesus said “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14 ESV, Biblegateway.com)

I came to the realization upon viewing that video, that I, indeed, was a hinder to my children. A painful revelation to be sure; in the years since, I have tried to make it up to my children—perhaps to the other end of the spectrum. I apologized so many times for not being the mother I was called to be, to my biological kids and to my stepsons. Most of them told me I did fine, although I will never believe it…

I tell this story simply to illustrate the pain of being egocentric (having little regard for anyone’s needs, thoughts or opinions other than one’s own). The harsh reality in MY life was that I was consumed with self. This can be a danger in one’s CHRISTIAN life as well. We are STILL broken. Although the Holy Spirit has breathed NEW LIFE into us, we may have a tendency to go back to that which is comfortable—no matter how twisted or wrong it may be. We MUST go to our Savior DAILY, for new life and new breath to give us the ability for focus outwardly, to be people-centric rather than egocentric.

I just finished listening to a series called “Vulnerable about Vulnerability” by Jill Parr, which I highly recommend.

As I listened, I realized my tendency to overshare leads me to not listen as I ought. I have made a commitment to listen more and speak less. As one of our very wise teens told me last night, “At this age [middle through high school], sometimes we just need someone who will listen…” Point taken, my wise young friend 😉

So I will ask you: How often are you listening (without interruption) to your teens? I know it is SO hard, but they need YOU to listen. As youth counselors, we are here too…for them AND for you…