As Write2Ignite prepares for the Young Adult Master Class in September, we are presenting several blog posts on writing for this audience.
Scripture references: Jeremiah 1: 6-13, 1 Timothy 4: 7-12
It’s five hundred meters to the next rest stop. There are no crowds cheering you on here. You’re completely alone in this barren wilderness as your feet mechanically pound the tarmac. With every lunge forward, you suck in a deeper breath before turning your attention to the steady stream of perspiration trickling down your temples. As you reach up to brush the salty beads away, the burning ache in your side returns to haunt you. Your lungs are screaming out for more oxygen and every muscle in your body is demanding for you to stop running. Out of the corner of your eye, you notice the girl behind you inch closer. But you’re feeling completely overwhelmed by exhaustion. The girl behind you is fifteen, two years older than you are. She came second in the championship last year. Unwittingly, you slow down for a fraction of a second and she seizes the opportunity to sprint past you!
Now the race is not just physical but mental. A thousand different voices spring up in your mind, each telling you that you can’t make it to the next bend in the road. Your legs are on the verge of giving way and there’s still a long way to go! Fighting back your despair, you reach for the ear buds dangling around your shoulders and press “play” on the MP3 player to listen to your coach’s voice.
“Sam, don’t look behind. Don’t entertain thoughts that you can’t win. Fix your eyes on what’s ahead of you. I see you crossing that finish line. What do you see?”
“What do I see?”
As a writer of young adults literature, this question motivates me in the same way a coach encourages an athlete to finish a marathon. It reminds me of why I write and challenges me to expand my vision for reaching out to the next generation. The Lord asked Jeremiah this same question twice when He called him to be a prophet to the nations. Even though Jeremiah thought he was too young, God wanted him to grasp the magnitude of His calling through subsequent visions. The vision that the Lord has for every young person on this planet is far greater than they realize. He wants them to maximize their fullest potential and finish their race in life well, especially when they’re five hundred meters from the next rest stop.
Like Sam’s coach, you and I are given the privilege of calling out the greatness in young adults through the fiction or non-fiction books we write. This is an opportunity to challenge them to live for Christ and to bring them into a personal encounter with Jesus. Writing young adults literature is also a form of mentorship. It’s the chance for me to ask my readers, “What do you see? How can you see God’s vision to use you for His Kingdom?”
I want to challenge you to not only pray when you start writing but to pray over your writing process. Ask God for His wisdom in addressing issues that currently affect our young people and He will give you the words. You can sow seeds of faith into the hearts of young people who might be battling with depression or bullying. Pray that the Lord will speak to your young readers that they might be inspired to share their faith with their friends in their schools, sporting clubs and wherever else God calls them to be.
I love how Paul encouraged Timothy with these words: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” Paul recognized the God-given potential in Timothy and spurred him to be a godly role model among the older believers.
Even when we craft our fictional characters, we can model godly examples for our readers through the words and behavior we give each character. It’s also worth doing character studies of the people in the Bible, which can help while brainstorming traits and character flaws for your own fictional characters. I find reading accounts of people who loved and served God on the mission field particularly inspiring. In addition to creating characters who are godly examples in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, let’s be people who live out what we write!
What do you see?