We have all heard (or at least I tell myself this) the Yiddish phrase “what’s your schtick” which means either your gimmick, or comic theme, but is most well known for people to ask of their interest or areas of activity.I was reminded of this phrase from a blog that I read from time to time and the author goes on how likes to ask this question instead of “what do you do”. Personally, I prefer to ask this sort of question than “what do you do” because I don’t like the idea of someone being defined by their job because, and let us be honest, not all jobs with the same titles have the same sort of person. Maybe this has to do with the fact that I myself am a young adult who is often asked this sort of question, but I think if you just try to put people in a fancy box and put nice bow on it, you aren’t really getting to the full amazing potential of them. And that is especially true I think for youth of all ages (even myself included).
For a lot of the youth that I work with, both present and those in the past, it is important to realize that no youth is going to be same carbon copy as the other. Not all kids who play sports are against the idea of reading and actually want to pursue knowledge as well. Just as the kid who is in band may like to go out camping from time to time and get some dirt on their knees from roughing it.
Youth are amazingly diverse and it is in this diversity that many of them I believe are wanting to be part of something more. They want to be able to place their mark on history and say, “I was part of this and we made something amazing”. History is riddled with this want of leaving a mark. And boy, our world has left some amazing moments (the Apollo 11, the 95 Theses of Martin Luther, etc.). And this is what brings me to the thought of, “What is the youth’s schtick and what are they going to do with that history?” Luckily, I get to be part of the front lines and that is an honor. But in some ways, youth can be left to feel that they can’t do anything due to their age or it is not their time yet to do something which is demoralizing because I do think it is their time.
Jeremiah 1: 4-8 is one of my favorite passages. You have Jeremiah who is to be a prophet for God, but when God tells him this Jeremiah is trying to humbly back away due to his age. And this is what happens in the passage:
4 Now the word of the Lord came to me saying,
5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
6 Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.” 7 But the Lord said to me,
“Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’;
for you shall go to all to whom I send you,
and you shall speak whatever I command you.
8 Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
says the Lord.”
God knew what Jeremiah’s schtick was to be, even before we was formed in the womb. He knew the gifts that he was giving to him that he was going to do some amazing things, and age was not an issue. God is well known for using the young as messengers of Himself. We have classic stories like David (twelve to fifteen years old), Samuel (about twelve years of age), the Disciples of Jesus (when they first started to follow Jesus they were all more than likely younger than eighteen).
Again, I am honored that I can be part of this age group. Because I do believe as a church that we all have something important to provide. And that we should share what our interest is in the church and see where that gift takes us.