When today’s young people talk about “checking in” they most often are referring to a social media posting which announces their location. They can even leave a comment or review for readers to know what kind of experience to expect. Not too many years ago, “checking in” meant something like calling home to let your parents know where you were and what time you expected to be home, or perhaps a brief conversation to find out how you’re doing.
Did you know that not all parents do this with their children? We tend to assume that certain activities which feel natural to us are universal, but this isn’t so. Many young people are not receiving this kind of attention at home. No one is asking them about their day, their homework, or when they will be home. They may be checking up on their social media activity, but not all of them are engaging in intentional conversation with the purpose of checking in.
John Wesley had a habit of asking those with whom he met regularly, “How is it with your soul?” What an important question, yet, when was the last time you asked it of someone of a younger generation? (If asked outright, it may be answered with some funny looks, so be prepared to explain yourself.) This question is not only important for the one who is asked to consider, but also aids in building an intimate relationship with the ask-er.
Another good one is, “May I tell you all that is on my heart?” This is a way of asking for permission to give criticism in love or to open a difficult conversation. If you’ve noticed a change in behavior, for example, this question allows you to first express your deep love and let the young person know that you are not casting judgment or condemnation, simply sharing your concern and hoping to right their course.
John chapter 13 opens with the story of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet. Verse 20 reads, “Very truly, I tell you, whoever receives one whom I send receives me; and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.” This struck me as I re-read this story the other day. I realized we can’t make disciples of Jesus without first being received ourselves. Our enemies are less likely to receive Christ through our lives or teaching. Those who receive us may then receive Jesus. Making disciples is more about building lasting and intimate relationships than ministry programming, so remember to check in often and regularly with the young people in your life.