Why Did The Monkey Fall Out Of The Tree?

I’ve been getting “real” haircuts for the last year.  I use to cut it myself but after my wife persistently pleaded that I see a professional I reluctantly agreed and now I have a real haircut.  I even have hair product that I use in it.  Now that I’m paying money to have my haircut I feel the pressure of making sure it’s styled and not just throwing on a hat.  And then I get worried what others will think if I do my hair wrong, because lets face it, hair is a great gossip topic.  One of the office volunteers yesterday said it looked cute, she’s a woman of a certain age, so I was flattered but it didn’t satisfy my need to know if I looked cool or dumb.  I think it matters more what a teenager would say, after all they know cool right?
About 6 years ago at the PDYM Conference in Saddleback California, Doug Fields said, “Once you hit 25 you are no longer cool.”  I remember I tried not to care about whether or not I was cool but in reality I was nervous of what teens thought.  Fear filled questions of, “Do they like me?” or “Am I cool?” filled my heart and mind, even to the point where it prevented me from ever mentoring or discipling them.

It’s a shame that I’ve passed up some relationships with teens because of intimidation.  It’s a shame considering all a teen wants is authenticity.  And can you blame them?  Not at all, after all our world is filled with airbrushed photos, smiles with an agenda and people seeking relationships to benefit themselves.  As youth workers we just need love them regardless of what they think of us, that’s how God loves us and it’s authentic.  If they aren’t loved in authentic Godly way then they are going to try to fill the holes in their life with something else. 
On the bus ride home from the Franciscan High School Conference this weekend the students laughed at my dumb jokes, the one I think they liked the most was (and this isn’t mine), “Why did the monkey fall out of the tree?”…”Because it was dead.”  The joke is dumb, they laughed, do they like me any better?  I don’t know, but do they know that I care about them?  Sure, because on top of making them laugh I try to tell my students over and over again that I love them and I’m proud of them and it couldn’t be anymore true.