Where are the young men?

Perhaps it is our shortage of male counselors for this summer that is affecting me, but I am feeling a void of young men who are interested and willing to serve the Lord.  I am talking about young, college age men.  Sometimes I feel as though they disappear from our churches and ministries upon turning 18 years of age, perhaps to return someday, perhaps not.  This summer will be my 18th year of being involved in camp ministry.  I can honestly say that at least half of those summers involved a shortage of male counselors and interestingly, a plethora of female.  Don’t get me wrong, I know many young men who are committed to Jesus Christ and sacrifice much for the sake of His kingdom.  However, they definitely represent the minority.

For a while, I thought I was the only one noticing this void and that maybe it was just my perception.  Then I came across a thin book by J.C. Ryle entitled, Thoughts for Young Men.  Published in 1865, Ryle says this:

Rich or poor, gentle or rough, educated or uneducated, in the city or in the country–it makes no difference. I shudder to think how few young men are led by the Spirit, how few are on that narrow road which leads to life, how few are setting their affections on things above, how few are taking up the cross, and following Christ. I say all this with sorrow, but I believe, in God’s sight, that I am saying nothing more than the truth.

Farther on, Ryle challenges young men with these words:

What young men will be, in all probability depends on what they are now, and they seem to forget this. Youth is the planting time of full age, the molding season in the little space of human life, the turning point in the history of man’s mind. By the shoot that springs up we can judge the type of tree that is growing, by the blossoms we judge the kind of fruit, by the spring we judge the type of harvest coming, by the morning we judge the coming day, and by the character of the young man, we may generally judge what he will be when he grows up.

If you are a young man, I strongly encourage you to read this book.  If you have a son or a grandson, buy it for him.  Whether we acknowledge it or not, we are losing more young men than we are gaining in the church.  I understand the need to work for college, to go away to school for a career, to earn money, etc.  Before you set out on your career track, however, I would encourage you to think about your time as you do your money.  We understand that all money is given to us by God and we tithe, or give back to God from what He gives to us.  So it is with your time – you are allotted a certain number of years on this earth by our sovereign God.  Think first how you can give back to God of the time that He has given you.  Think like David did in Psalm 31:15 – my times are in your hands.

And, by the way, if you are interested in serving as a guy counselor at Big Sky Bible Camp, click here.