Homeschoolers have a reputation for being a rather homogenous group. And since Gen J is currently comprised of mostly home school students, the same generalizations can apply to its membership. Being a home school graduate and Gen J alumna myself, I can relate to the stereotype jokes and identify with the group. We’re generally conservative, go to church regularly, look and dress pretty similar, wield an impressive vocabulary, and are almost universally fans of Narnia, Lord of the Rings, Adventures in Odyssey, and Veggie Tales.
Because of this, it took some adjustment in my thinking to view my work as an iGovern counselor as ministry. When I look at the iGovern students, I see myself just a few years ago - literally. Did I really need ministry then? Is it really the same thing to serve home school students as high-risk kids from the inner city? Or orphans in a foreign country?
Of course it’s not the same, because the needs are different. One may be literally starving for food, another starving for love, another starving for grace. But the real question is – is meeting any of these needs any less important than another? Which one does Christ not value? He fed people in many more ways than one.
There are both advantages and difficulties when you’re trying to minister to someone like you. On the positive side, you can recognize and understand struggles that others might not, since you share similar experiences. I can relate to the pressures of being the eldest child, for example, and spot the warning signs of perfectionism quickly. On the other hand, there is a temptation to accept these shared struggles as “normal,” underestimate its significance, and ignore the problem altogether. If I just shrug or laugh it off and act like it’s no big deal, I could actually encourage the perfectionism, and worsen the pressure. While we shouldn’t necessarily look for the problems in life, or focus too much on our struggles, pretending like they don’t exist can be fatal.
My point is, we have a real responsibility to reach out to those like ourselves, as much as anyone else. Don’t ever assume that someone doesn’t need love. No life is always easy, and I’ve yet to meet someone who hasn’t struggled – and who isn’t currently struggling – with something, on some level. Every life is important and precious – whether they grew up in the hood, or homeschooled.