I don’t read a lot of fiction, but the one series that I have been reading over the last few years has been J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. It’s great for a rainy day alongside a strong flat white and Lindt’s blueberry chocolate.
But it might surprise you to know that one of the most helpful tips for my ministry to youth and young adults came from the Harry Potter series. Through the mouth of Albus Dumbledore, Rowling writes;
“Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels. But old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young.” Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix p728.
Though I love working with young people I quite often find myself lamenting their actions. Asking, ‘Why did they do such a stupid thing?’ And here is where Rowling has helped me.
She’s helped me to remember that young people cannot see their actions through my eyes, with my life experience, Bible College training and fully formed adult brain. But I can remember what it was like to be young. A time when pimples were the bane of my life and exam marks were its focal point. A time when the world was before me but I didn’t know how to handle it. A time when I wanted to fit in and stand out at the same time.
What does this remembering produce in me?
Patience to remind them of the gospel of God’s gracious forgiveness and patience to avoid berating them if they do it all over again. Patience to gently spur them on towards maturity in Christ. Patience to hear and fan their dreams but to also gently remind them that all our dreams must be submitted under God’s.
But even before this idea came from Rowling’s pen it came from another’s. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, the writer to the Hebrews says this.
15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. 16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:15-16
The incarnation wonderfully makes our Lord Jesus a great and sympathetic high priest who is able to deal gently with each of us in spite of all our sin and inconsistency because he can remember what it was like to be one of us.
And so as He continues to gently minister to me, I will continue to gently minster to the young people around me, remembering what it was like to be young.
Caringbah Anglican Church