Years ago when I was in my late teens and early 20s, a man, actually his whole family, had a very positive impact on my life professionally, personally, and spiritually. My teen years were rough and although hard to believe now, left me with little self-confidence. The man, we’ll call him Bill, gave me a job (two actually), gave me respect and guided me. Bill is about 8 years older than I am. Age didn’t seem to matter. He had wisdom beyond his years yet the ability to communicate as if we were peers. I am grateful for all he has done. I owe him, and his family, a lot.
Now that I am older I look to the teens that I interact with and think “It’s my turn to have a positive impact.” In some cases, it’s just listening. Others, it might be talking about tech gadgets. In other cases it’s taking a few hits in Karate.
One in particular (we’ll call him Mike) wasn’t all that popular. For some reason he gravitated to me. Others spoke openly about how annoying he could be, but I persivered at spending time with him. Now as Mike graduates High School, he showed his appreciation more openly. He thanked me in public for just being there. That meant a lot to me. Things became a little clearer this past weekend when I found out that he had interpersonal issues at school and his home life is a bit of a mess. Even though I didn’t know this before, it wouldn’t have changed my “mission” to return the favor and be there for him – even in a limited way.
If you are 25 or older, look for teens or early 20s people you interact with (Church, the gym, school functions) and talk to them. Treat them with respect. Treat them like adults because they will be soon and they will remember what you did for them and want to do the same.