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Author: Paul Masek

We all struggle with the temptation to wear masks, and it’s a lifelong struggle. We face temptations regularly – often daily – to try to be someone we’re not. Whether we are just trying to fit in, attempting to hide our hurts with the “I’m fine” mask, or doing whatever it takes to make others like us, the struggle is real. But, since this temptation is common to all people, we are in good company!

I think you could even make a case that Jesus was tempted to wear masks; in the Bible it says that Jesus was tempted in every way that we are, but never sinned. So, even though Jesus experienced the temptation to be fake, He never was. He was Himself all of the time. And by looking to Him, we can find help and inspiration as we strive to be true to ourselves.

Those of us who have devoted our lives to helping God’s kids by serving in the fields of youth ministry and education can tend to feel overwhelmed most (if not all) of the time. Whether we are full-time, part-time, or volunteers, it’s demanding and tireless work.

And we spend so much time and energy dedicated to improving the lives of other people’s children that those of us with children of our own can sometimes wonder… what about my own kids? Am I giving them the attention that they need, or are they being unintentionally neglected because of the amount of time I spend in ministry?

As a teenager, my friend Mike was at a very low point in his life – seriously considering harming himself in the most permanent way. In that moment, seemingly out of the blue, a friend reached out to him and asked if he wanted to hang out and do something. Mike said yes to his friend, and – looking back – he believes that phone call saved his life.

Parents – ever wondered what your kid actually does at youth group?

Youth ministers – ever wondered what your teens tell their parents when they get home from church?

I have experienced the ups and downs of raising teenagers. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked one of my kids about school, youth group, a social event, or a retreat that they attended – and the only response I got was “good” or “fine” or “okay.” And despite my attempts to pry deeper by asking questions, I often had no idea what my kids experienced.

Through our work on The REAP Team, we receive questions from teens on a variety of topics – often about love, relationships, and faith. I’m always happy to help, if I can. So you can imagine my surprise and delight when I recently received a question I’ve never been asked before: “How do you know if you’ve loved your loved ones well enough before they’re gone?”