People Who Love Teenagers Are My People

After a decade in education, I found there were some questions I got over and over again, questions about why good teachers chose that job, why bad ones stayed and questions about what made me, personally, choose to begin my career in education 

Most often, my answer started like this…

People become teachers for three reasons. 

Some love the subject. 

Some love power. 

Some love teenagers. 

And what they love most will determine how they do their jobs. 

I think a lot of professions, especially professions serving teenagers, work the same way. 

Some coaches are there because they love the sport.
Some are there because they love the players. 

Some youth pastors are there because they want to be a senior pastor.
Some are there because they want to serve teenagers for as long as God lets them. 

Some camp workers are there because camp is fun. 
Some camp workers are there because camp is full of teenagers.

Chances are we’re all a mix, but I think the same principle is true: 

What we love MOST will determine how we do our jobs and who we do our jobs with. 

As a teacher, the people I wanted around me most, the ones I wanted to run with, the ones who made me better…they were in the third category. 

They loved teenagers most. 

And they loved them enough to teach whatever, show up wherever, get paid…not-enough-ever for the privilege of being a main character in a teenagers’ story. 

Those are still my kind of people. 

  • The youth pastors, the ones who get paid and the ones who work an extra job to be there. 
  • The volunteerswho give up vacation days, sleep and years of their lives to show up for a kid week after week. 
  • The curriculum writers who spend three hours thinking about one paragraph only to delete it and start over because they know the words they write will shape what a teenager thinks about God—and that’s worth as many hours as it takes. 
  • The coaches who give up nights and weekends and all their brainspace to help teenagers develop the skill of working hard, winning, losing and facing their giants.
  • The counselors who stay up late thinking about and praying for the teenager who is in a dark place and then walks with them to the other side. 
  • The camp workerswho live at work, who make sure the bathrooms are clean, the pool is clean and the kids are safe (or at least have a ride to the hospital) because they know this week—this hot, gross, exhausting week—may change the course of a teenager’s life. 
  • And the teachers, the ones who consider early mornings, long weeks and parent conferences simply the price of admission for one of the best jobs in the world. 

In short, people who love teenagers are my people. 

And if you made it this far in the blog…they’re probably yours too. 

I think that means we’re gonna be friends