Acceptance is one of those things that is regularly spoken about, and probably most regularly in regard to young people. How could we, and even should we be continuously or persistently acceptant?
Are we meant to accept the way they speak?
Are we meant to accept the way they act?
Are we meant to accept the way they do things?
Are we meant to accept the fact that their way of expression will be different to ours?
So many forms of acceptance, and not all listed above, but how can we work out a way of acceptance?
If we are to be acceptant in our approach, then we have to come at it from a foundation, of understanding that recognises that we will not understand things straight away, and things will not necessary change or adjust straight away. Acceptance takes time! time to show! time to receive! Time to believe that it is actually truly given!
Acceptance is often viewed with a lens of suspicion, not believing that people are being true to what they say, or even a level of scepticism because it is often something that a lot of people, and maybe young people more than most, do not experience truly in their lives. We live in a culture where blame, shame, unforgiveness all exist at high levels, but yet we are called to be different, live differently, demonstrate different values, and so live out a culture of persistent acceptance.
when we work with young people, living this out will be a challenge, as parents, church members, and others will all have viewpoints on young people and their behaviour, but as god demonstrated persistent acceptance to us, inviting us into that relationship with him, continuously, persistently, we should aim to live out that which has been demonstrated to us.
so what od we need to do if we are to demonstrate this?
1: Where a young person continues to be around us, never give up on them. Obviously, at some points young people will choose to walk away, but often they will not, so regardless of what is happening, we do not walk away from them.
2: recognise the long hall for us. Acceptance is not going to happen over night, so we need to involve, engage, in a long term process.
3: Keep the invitation open. Even if there are boundaries that you are agreeing with young people, and they need to be stuck by, always ensure that the young person knows the door is open, there is never a permanence to their removal or exclusion. the door is there, open, the invitation is there and remains.
4: ensure the conduct of your team shows this as well. So it isn’t just reliant upon you the leader, but is always part of the whole teams approach to people, situations, the premise of acceptance is at the heart of all that you are about.
god continues to show acceptance to us, so where and how do we show it to others around us?