Dear Young Person (student, teenager or young adult),
There are many things I want to say to you. So many things I events I could invite you to do. So many things I would encourage you to believe or avoid. But If I’m only given one opportunity to say something to you…I’d say I’m sorry.
I’m sorry for lots of things. I’m sorry that I get annoyed when you take five slices of pizza on pizza night and only eat parts of three.
I’m sorry that after 22 minutes of me teaching on a Wednesday night (after you’ve had a long day at school), I get frustrated when you have a hard time listening to the lesson I’ve prepared.
I’m sorry I can’t always just be thankful that you showed up on those Wednesday nights with a smile; instead, I expect you to be enthusiastic about everything, listen with rapt attention, know the answers to my questions, laugh at all my jokes, and act like my talk changed your life.
I’m sorry that when I teach, I only use two of the seven “learning styles”—although teaching this way seems more efficient and requires less creativity, it ostracizes those of you who learn differently.
I’m sorry that I ask you to invite your friends to youth group, without first entering into your world to get to know your friends first.
I’m sorry that I talk more about your (future )potential than I do about your current value. The church and world desperately need you exactly as you are today.
I’m sorry that I’m often more concerned about you knowing the right answers than about making sure you have a safe place to ask hard questions.
I’m sorry that in my attempt to nurture your faith, I make you feel like your doubt is a shameful thing.
I’m sorry that in an attempt to make church and our youth ministry a fun, energetic and exciting place to be, I have made those of you who are thoughtful and introverted feel unwelcome, not safe or “less than.”
I’m sorry if too often, the relationship you and I have seems like some sort of leverage to be used to get you to invite your friends, serve, volunteer or show up.
I’m sorry that I’m not a better advocate for you in the church.
I’m sorry that the only time we see fit to use your God-given gifts is on “youth Sunday.”
I’m sorry for every time an adult has every said, “You don’t know how good you have it.”
I’m sorry for every time an adult has said, “What’s wrong with kids these days?”
I’m sorry that I haven’t rushed to your defense any time an adult has said these things behind your back.
I’m sorry that often, so much of the “gospel” you might hear at youth group rings like law and warnings about what not to do, rather than the One loves you no matter what you do.
I’m sorry for every time I’ve tried to do “what is best for you” instead of just loving you unconditionally.
I’m sorry for every time I haven’t seen Jesus in your eyes and heard Him in your voice when I’ve cared for you, fed you, driven you home, waited for you, listened to you and tried to love you.
I’m sorry that my own life isn’t a better representation of the gospel-life I teach and encourage you to live.
Thank Jesus that I need His absolute love and salvation just as much as you.
I love you. Can you forgive me?
This article originally appeared here.