Blessed is the man who preserves under trial, because when he has stood the test,
he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him.
- James 1:12
Greater love has no man than this,
that a man lay down his life for his friends.
- John 15:13
This type of love is called agape. Agape is selfless love. We admire agape love in others, but we are less likely to love this way ourselves. As Core team members, we are called to love teens with no expectation of any return. Love is not just some warm feeling we have toward the people in our life who are easy to love. It is a choice we make to love someone, even the hardest people for us to love. The teen that gets on your nerves may well be the one our Lord is calling you to reach out to. There is no rationale to this type of love, it doesn't make sense in the world of Hallmark cards or in the lyrics of the latest iTunes release. Love requires sacrifice, inconvenience, strength, vulnerability, courage, and maybe even looking like a fool.
So whatever happened to Joe? He went on to go to college at a Catholic University and studied theology. Joe decided to become a youth minister. He graduated from college and his first job is serving at a parish implementing Life Teen. A youth minister, a Core team member, and a parish community didn't give up on Joe when he was a teen. Now Joe has the opportunity to transform the lives of many teens and their families because he experienced unconditional love as a teen. All of this happened because an unknown and holy youth minister and Core team performed an act of charity for a teen. They didn't know how the story would turn out. All they cared about was the soul of this teen. As a core member, there is not a task more important than loving a teen to the end and helping them gain heaven. Pope John Paul II remarked, "Do not forget that true love sets no conditions; it does not calculate or complain, but simply loves."
As people who are called to lead teens closer to Christ, we must learn to reach out to the hardest to love. Think about the teen that you avoid the most and make a choice to reach ot to them this week. Take some time to listen and find out what is going on in their life. Yes, you might get rejected, but don's top reaching out to them.