I Just Finished a Thank-you Note… To a Girl (OYPO – Vol. 36)

One Youth Pastor’s Opinion (OYPO)…

I Just Finished a Thank-you Note…To a Girl

The young ladies of our church are the most precious people in the world. I just finished writing a thank you note to one of our teenage ladies who gave us a Christmas treat, but I texted the parents to let them know I was doing it. Sure, they’d see the note in the mail, but I want them in the loop. All the time. 

I’m not big on the helicopter parenting style, where the kids are pampered and babied so much that they never experience pain or failure. Yet I’m not an advocate of the hands-off approach either. I think parents can be wise enough to know the difference, but we all skew one way or another. 

We’ve seen from recent major news publications that sex scandals and cover-ups happen everywhere all the time. The latest highlight is Independent Baptist churches, but it is also in the Catholic Church, mainline evangelicalism, the public school system, and pretty much everywhere that a man is in an authority position over a girl. 

For obvious reasons, this makes me even more gun-shy to even talk to girls. Sorry if I come across as unkind, ladies. If I direct you to my wife, it’s not because I don’t want to talk to you about your spiritual problems, it’s that 1) She has better counsel than me, and 2) I don’t want an emotional bond to happen between us. 

One of my Bible college professors warned us best when he said, “Don’t touch the mamas and the money.” That about sums up the majority of the problems most church leaders get themselves into. 

So, I text a parent that I’m writing their daughter because I want DAD to be the one that is emotionally connected to the females of the household… not me. I’ve got a wife and two daughters to worry about, and that’s gloriously enough. I love doting on my daughters. I tell them all the time how pretty they are, and I never want them to feel more loved by anyone else besides me. I have heard it said that a girl’s emotional cravings should be fulfilled by her dad, right up until she gets married. Sure, my daughter might some day reject me, but I do not want it to be because I was totally void of love. 

More than once I’ve declined a hug from a young lady, not because I revel in awkward situations, but because I don’t feel like that’s my place. I can count on one hand the number of girls I’ve hugged—always in the presence of my wife and always for an intentional purpose, as far as I can spiritually discern. 

My wife has tried to explain the woman’s mind to me, but after 3 straight days of listening, I had to drop the subject and walk away, none the wiser. I left it at, “I’ll just send the girls to you for that” and called it good. 

From what I could make out, it seems like sometimes when a man’s hug is involved, there’s a rush of feel-good endorphins that can be hard to sort out in a young lady’s mind. Was it friendship? Was it sexual? Was it a kind gesture? Was it weird? Did I like it? Should I like it? Should I tell someone? Am I overdoing it? Uuugh! Why am I like this?! 

No, it’s not weird to ask those questions. Maybe the questions are never articulated quite like that, but they might be felt. I never know, so those improper feelings are the things I work to avoid. 

“Play the dweeb,” Pastor Jason Gaddis used to tell us. I think that’s good advice. At least I’m bald and more than a little homely… my acting role comes naturally to me. But there are those who have a full head of hair, they work out and have big muscles, they have great personalities, and they have dreamy-eyed young ladies staring at them for an hour at a time while they preach. Pray for the good-looking guys… they have it rougher than me, for sure. 

I want the young ladies to know that an absence of touch is not an absence of love. Sure, there are youth groups that have tighter bonds to their youth pastor, and everyone greets everyone with hugs all around… I’ve just chosen to not have that in our youth group, mostly because I think it strikes fires inside all of us that ought not be stricken. Maybe that’s just a weirdo’s opinion, but I think there are other ways to express love. 

I want the young men to look at their fellow teenagers as future spouses. I want them to think of their own teenage daughters some day and ask, “Would I be happy if a teenage boy were treating my daughter like I’m treating this girl right now?” Teens aren’t dumb. They can envision the future and do it more than we parents give them credit for. 

I want the parents to have confidence that their children’s youth pastor is sincerely trying to help them raise godly kids and is constantly pointing the kids back to godly things. I hurt for those who have had bad experiences with church leaders. I weep for friends of mine who have been burned before, but I want them to know God more than anything or anyone else. 

Truly, I try to be Spirit-led in my work with young ladies, because, to me, they’re the most beautiful people in the world. One can never be too careful, especially these days. Pence got it right when he put up some barriers in his life. Now, the only accusation that can stick is that he overdosed on Root Beer in high school. If that’s as bad as it gets, I’m okay with that. 

Ask your kids if they have ever been hugged or touched or felt manipulated in any way. Keep the conversations open with them. Ask them about church staff, teachers at school, friends, or anyone at any time (even if it was when they were 6 years old). 

I will continue to love every young person in my life, but I want everyone in their life to know all about it too.   -Bro. Ryan

Sermon Summary

Sunday School

Sunday School: If God’s sovereignty can be boiled down to a take-home concept, it is that He is big enough to handle anything and everything in my life.

Wednesday:(12/26) No class

Teen Announcements (click to expand)