The American Psychological Association has deemed Millennials (anyone born between the late 1980s to the early 2000s) the most stressed out generation. Gen Z, those born after Millennials, gets labeled as fearing failure and public scrutiny. Everyone blames technology and social media for the pressure teens now face.
We expect perfectionism at every turn. Kids must present themselves more as the person they want to be than who they are. Plus, a constant access to all information makes kids unable to ever say, “I don’t know.” Culture makes it appear confusing to know who you are and how you’re supposed to view yourself.
As we pour into this stressed out generation, youth ministers see the growing need for kids to have their identity settled in Christ. We know the only way to combat pressure is for them to grab hold of what Jesus thinks of them. Yet because stress constantly bombards teens, youth workers may find it difficult to get them to actually step out in the truth of who they are to God.
Now more than ever, youth ministers must be creative when approaching the topic of identity. What can we do to help this stressed out generation? Read on for four helpful suggestions.
Stressed Out Generation: 4 Ways to Help Teens
1. Go deeper.
The days of merely saying, “Don’t believe that” or “Your identity is in Jesus” are over. We must give students safe places to question these statements and find out what they mean. Dig deeper than assemblies and large-group talks to deal with this topic.
Throwing around statements make us feel better because we’ve said them. But kids still wonder what it all means. They want to know how to apply the truth in their setting.
2. Stop treating stress as a one-sided issue.
Part of my frustration with talking about identity and insecurity is that we often label it as a “female” issue. Books, curriculum, and articles focus on girls’ emotions and pressures.
Having worked with teens for decades, I can say: Both girls and guys struggle to understand who they are in Christ. But they simply focus on different things. All students need to grasp the depth of who they are beyond who they present themselves to be.