Stress and Young People

Stress and Young People

Although there is some disagreement among experts as to precisely
why, there is an abundance of evidence which indicates young
people are experiencing a seemingly unprecedented level of stress.
Psychologist Daniel Keating noted: “Depression, anxiety and feeling
overwhelmed are not all the same thing, but they do share a
common feature: experiencing a level of stress that is beyond an
ability to cope, with a negative impact on health and on the ability to
function well in many situations” (Keating, Daniel.
www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/stressful-lives/201711/why-areteen-
so-stressed-and-what-can-be-done-to-break-the-cycle). One
wonders how aware many church leaders and congregations are of
the seriousness of the situation. Even more, one wonders what
specific actions are being taken by church leaders to help minister
to youth dealing with this issue. Admittedly, parents have a primary
responsibility, but this does not mean that our young people should
not find support, strength and encouragement within the body of
Christ.

Some of the major factors contributing to the stress of youth include
(1) fear; (2) uncertainty; (3) lack of control; (4) competition, and (5)
feelings of being socially “disconnected” or alone. For each of these
factors, there’s help and hope to be found in Christ, His gospel and
His people! It simply is a must that Christians do what we can to
help improve “the spiritual immune system” of young people. And
this is because if Satan gets their hearts, bodies and minds, he will
get their souls too! (Eph. 4:27; 2 Cor. 2:11).

What can be done? We could blame our culture, or claim that young
people today are too fragile or weak. But this thinking does nothing
to help improve matters. It does not appear that the factors
contributing to stress among young people are going away anytime
soon. What can we do to help? (Phil. 4:9) Here are four
suggestions. Keep in mind that the more specific and concrete ways
we positively implement these, the better. And they need to be done
on both an individual and congregational level.

First, we must teach and model faithfulness (Matt. 22:36-40). If
we’re going to raise a generation of young people like Daniel, we
better help them know how to have a vibrant relationship with God
while living in Babylon! (Cf. Dan. 1:8; 1 Tim. 4:16). Second, we must
teach and model resilience. Resilience will help better equip them
to overcome the toxic effects of stress. If parents and churches
constantly display a negative “the sky is falling” type outlook, this will
not help. We must truly believe in the providential care of God
(Rom. 8:28). We must believe we are “more than conquerors”
through Christ (Rom. 8:37). Third, we must teach and model
mindfulness. By this I mean that we must help them live properly in
the moment. In Philippians 3, Paul exhibits a marvelous ability to
properly think in terms of the past, present and future. Do we?
Young people need to better see this quality in us. Fourth, we must
teach and model care. Appropriate care is given to the body, the
mind and the soul.

This involves the appropriate application of exercise, nutrition and
rest in all three areas.

Christians have a marvelous opportunity to show and tell young
people of the joy and peace that is to be found in Jesus (Gal. 5:22-
23). We cannot remove all the factors that might cause stress in
their lives, but we can help them love and trust the One who can see
them through them – Jesus.

-Mike Vestal

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