I’m currently reading a book called Mapping the World of Harry Potter. In spite of the fact that I bought it simply to keep me on an HP i.v.-line til the 7th book comes out, I’m finding myself receiving more than initially expected. The first essay discusses the idea of youth vs adulthood, Dumbledore vs Harry. The idea that Dumbledore makes ‘an old man’s mistake’ by trying to shield Harry from the truth of the prophecy surrounding his birth. (See HP OOtP) The author rightly states that the youth HATE it when adults do that to them b/c in spite of their youth, they want to be taken seriously and given adult responsibilities. In fact, the author claims that when we try to shield kids and protect the ‘innocence of their youth’ [and as a teacher I say, ‘yea right – no such thing!’], they resent us for it.
It’s gotten me thinking about how we treat our youth in church, or in the Youth Ctr. Having just returned from TECBC, and having been in youth ministry/teaching for the last 6 yrs, I can say with confidence that our youth are more than capable of handling the tasks entrusted to them – provided that those tasks take into account their age and limitations. Most churches/ministries, however, do not take their youth seriously enough to give them ‘adult’ responsibilities. Part of that is a misconception of youth. That is, that they should wait to grow up before stepping into leadership roles. And part of it is fear. Fear that once the youth take on the responsibility, they will drop the ball. They are growing up fast, and as such their personalities, interests and passions change easily. Adults find this frustratingly inconsistent. Youth find this normal. It’s just one more stepping stone to becoming who they really are. The 6th graders that come to my class in Sept. arent the same that leave me in June. They’ve changed – and may I say for the worst most of the time. =/ So then, when we adults treat them as they were just a few months ago, they get angry with us. We like to call this teen angst or ‘hormonal’ because it allows us to have the freedom to not care. But, in reality, these kids have changed and are rightly indignant that you challenge their maturity and identity. If we want to keep our youth in church – and we all know that many of them are leaving – we need youth workers who read Harry Potter. Youth workers who care enough to educate themselves on child development. I work in a school of only 3 grades, but let me tell you – they run the gamut in how different they are from one another. We need youth workers sensitive to their kids’ development so that they can properly mentor them. And just as an aside, I have learned I have to be less of a ‘busy-body.’ I have the tendency to use my influence and connections to intervene when I feel my kids are going astray. In the end, I’m not sure I made the right decision. Maybe they should make their own mistakes in some areas, but when we have the power to shield them, should we?
Another issue: In HP HBP, Dumbledore entrusts Harry with the task of retrieving a very important memory from Prof Slughorn. While Dumbledore himself can do this quite easily, as Phineas Nigellus points out, Dumbledore still gives Harry the responsibility. When Harry tries and fails, he gives up, so that when he and Dumbledore meet the next time, Dumbledore does not hide his disappointment until Harry feels ashamed and vows to get it. He still doesnt understand why he has to be the one to retrieve the memory, but because he’s loyal to Dumbledore, he trusts that it must be him. In contrast, Harry’s loyalty to Dumbledore doesnt carry over into his opinion of others. Case in point: Snape. Dumbledore trusts Snape implicitly and explicitly, therefore the Order of the Phoenix does as well. They trust Snape because Dumbledore does. Not so for Harry. He’s questioned Dumbledore’s judgement of Snape on numerous occasions, and the two end up in a pretty tense exchange by book 6.
I found this connection to my own personal relationship to one of my boys quite revealing. I happen to be going thru a time of spiritual warfare with my son. It’s a prolonged time of warfare because altho God has already shown us the ending of this story, we’ve yet to get past the first chapter. We dont know how long it’ll take before the promises of God begin to become a reality in his life. As the ‘mom’ and an adult, I always feel guilty b/c I think I could be ‘doing’ more – physically, in other words. I’m completely a workaholic, right? So, sitting on my hands and waiting for things to happen is not in my nature. I’m an initiator, a self-starter, a go-getter. So, when God says ‘pray without ceasing,’ even tho I absolutely believe in the power of intercession, I can get really tired. If I feel it’s not working, I tend to give up and get depressed. Even so, I know I have to keep going. I know that nothing will change in my son’s life unless I break through spiritually first. But, it’s tough. And time passes by, and I dont know what else I’m supposed to do.
I have a kid, whom I’ll call Ron. I adore him. He’s seen me go through a lot. He’s prayed for me, prophesied over me, and cared for me through some really tough times of spiritual warfare. He’s seen me in deep intense moments of vulnerability. As a person who finds it hard to cry, I have to say, my Ron has been with me most of the time I’ve cried in the past yr. o__o He’s also involved with my current spiritual warfare as a fellow prayer-warrior. To be honest, I’m not sure he’s actually praying and interceding the way I know he can, but there it is. So, Ron and I sorta had a little fight over IM the other week b/c, as I fill him in on certain things that are happening in my son’s family, it frustrates him that he cant ‘do’ anything about it. In fact, he accused me of not ‘doing’ much and hence the angry exchange. So, here’s the Dumbledore/Harry connection: my Ron is loyal to me, but he finds it hard to trust me when it comes to battling spiritual warfare. He’s so focused on ‘doing’ as a means of solving problems, that he’s unaware of the all the spiritual things happening that he cannot see. This truth has not yet become a reality to him: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms,” (Eph.6:12) He isnt aware of his own power in prayer to defeat those spiritual forces, nor does he even grasp that prayer is the ONLY thing that will make that happen, and not any amount of ‘doing.’ This is very similar to Harry’s struggle to understand why, of all the powerful abilities he could possess, LOVE happens to be the thing that can eventually defeat Voldemort. The concept of love seems so abstract and elusive to him. Similarly, my Ron doesnt engage enough in intercession to understand just how powerful his prayers can be to defeat the work of the enemy in my son’s life. The concept of ‘prayer’ seems too passive. As such, he doesnt really pray. In addition, he doesnt trust that I see the spiritual battle more clearly than he does, and as a result he finds it hard to trust me and God Himself with the outcome. Only seeing the visible result of his prayers will help build that trust in him. I only hope he can persevere that long. And at the same time, I hope that he’s actually praying so that when things do change, he can rightly celebrate that he had a hand in bringing it about.