What is our country’s greatest natural resource? Is it the wood in our forests, mineral oil under the soil, or gold within our mines? As valuable as these may be, they fall far behind the worth and percentage of young people in India, which is the largest in the world! Youth may be seen as a source of great potential as well as enormous problems; intense creativity, yet possessing much instability. The good news is that the shortcomings of youthfulness can be transformed into usefulness for our nation’s good and God’s glory.
At our 60th Independence Day celebrations, President Abdul Kalam challenged the nation’s youth to strive toward 7 noble life goals. This 7-point oath he offered to youth are visionary commitments that I believe can be vitalized by Christian values and genuine care for our young people, and are worth reflecting on:
1. I have to set a goal in life and to achieve the goal, I will acquire the knowledge, I will work hard, and when problems occur, I have to defeat the problems and succeed.
2. As a youth of my nation, I will work and work with courage to achieve success in all my tasks and enjoy the success of others.
3. I shall always keep myself, my home, my surroundings, neighborhood, and environment clean and tidy.
4. I realize righteousness in the heart leads to beauty in the character and brings harmony in the home, which leads to order in the nation and, in turn, peace in the world.
5. I will lead an honest life, free from all corruption, and will set an example for others to adopt a righteous way of life.
6. I will light the lamp of knowledge in the nation and ensure that it remains lit forever.
7. I realize whatever work I do, if I do the best, I am contributing towards realizing the Mission of Developed India before 2020.
Can Christian communities or the Church play a catalytic role in such goal-setting and nation building? Youth, I found, will respond to challenges, provided they know that we have their best interest in mind. Importantly, after studying 2 Tim 1:1-7, I found in Paul’s relationship to young Timothy, a model that shows us how we may go about this:
1. Be there, share with, and communicate to youth; Paul wrote to Timothy (v.2).
2. Confirm your love for them and demonstrate genuine interest in their welfare (v.2).
3. Don’t hold back; teach them spiritual values such as grace, mercy, and peace… (v. 2)
4. Thank God for them; let them know prayer and care go together (v.3).
5. Value them; stay close to them to demonstrate solidarity in their life’s experiences (v.4).
6. Compliment them; let them know you believe in them and do so by entrusting them with responsibility (v.6).
7. Care enough to correct them, but always encourage them to keep keeping on (v.7).
May the Indian Christian community identify with, constantly encourage, sensitively nurture, and effectively use our young people for nation-building. After all, percentage-wise and soon socioeconomically, today’s youth are not tomorrow’s but today’s citizens!