From the time we were kids—and were convinced that there was something under our bed when the lights were turned out—we’ve dealt with fear as a part of life. The older we get, the things that we fear simply change. In a sense, our fears seem to grow up just as we do. We find ourselves wondering: Will I find a job after I graduate college? Will I spend the rest of my life single? Does anyone really know who I am?
As I have conversations with young adults, I continue to hear those questions of worry and fear. I’ve noticed that these fears tend to hinder them as they make decisions about their future. But even more significantly, these fears are hindering them from making a decision to follow Christ completely on faith and from experiencing the richness of being Christ-follower.
For most young adults today, fear has grown up!
So how do we as young adult ministry leaders help them deal with fear that they may not even be recognizing in their lives? As ministry leaders we have an opportunity to speak truth and hope into their lives through a moment-by-moment relationship with Jesus in their lives.
Here are three things to address with young adults in dealing with fear:
1. Remind them of God’s promises concerning fear.
I’m pretty sure that God foresaw that most of us were going to deal with a powerful tool of the enemy in our lives called fear. It often starts so subtle, involving small issues. However, if we let those small areas of our life spill over into other areas, fear can be controlling and can stifle us from any decision or step of faith.
Countless times in Scripture God reminds us not to fear—most often in the midst of trials, decisions, or persecution.
“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
“For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment” (2 Timothy 1:7).
In Scripture, God never promised us that if we followed Him that He would make our lives easy, but He did promise that He would never leave us! Remind young adults of His promises of complete commitment to us as His followers.
2. Be vulnerable with young adults concerning your fears.
As leaders of young adults, we can be a significant voice in their lives as they navigate the fears they face. They need to know that they are not alone on this journey. It can be powerful for them to hear about the things that you fear, how you have faced those in your past, and how you are facing them in your present. Young adults value authenticity in the leaders that they follow. When you become “real” in their lives, that’s when you will have the most opportunity to speak truth and hope into their circumstances.
Many times we think that we have to have it all “figured out” and have all the answers before we can start investing into the lives of young adults. However, what they value the most is simply having someone in their lives that has navigated the road a little longer than they have—and who they can ask the questions and seek honest answers from.
3. Pray with them consistently about fears they face.
It’s important for us to model for young adults the consistent need for Jesus in all areas of our lives. When fear comes knocking, we have the opportunity to model for them what our first response should be. There is such power when we can pray with and for them as they face things that appear to be crippling, but we can point them toward Jesus who has all hope and direction.
The writer of Psalm 34:4 says: “I sought the LORD, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.”
Never shy away from the opportunity to pray with young adults about what they are fearing! When we pray with them, it’s a powerful reminder that the strength is not in ourselves but rests solely in Jesus.
The more time you spend with young adults, you’ll see some very real fears that they’re facing. These fears can often keep them from becoming the disciples that the Lord has called them to be! What an incredible opportunity we have to walk with them with faith and trust that the Lord has provided strength, encouragement and hope as they journey through the questions of young adulthood.
Mark Whitt is a collegiate minister with Baptist Collegiate Ministry at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tenn. Connect with Mark via Twitter.