When I was a high school math teacher, one of my students made a statement to her classmates along the lines of “High school is the best time of our lives, people. You better enjoy it.” I challenged her assertion and explained that she had so many wonderful events in her life ahead of her—college, marriage, and children just to name a few. When she thought it over, she could see that the sentiment she expressed was actually very negative. Yet, I’ve heard adults make the same comment to their high school children.
For many people high school was a wonderful experience, and they look back wistfully on that period when they had lots of free time to spend with their friends and they were still under the protection of their parents. Unfortunately, however, high school is a very tough time for many other teenagers. Some teens struggle with making friends and feel like they don’t fit into any groups. Teens are pressured to wear the right clothing and hairstyles. Girls may be teased for being overweight or not fashionable, and bullies pick on smaller, weaker guys. Even the athletes and beauty queens are pressured to live up to worldly standards of physical perfection that are unrealistic. It’s no wonder that many teens struggle with low self-esteem.
In writing and in working with girls in my church, I am passionate about trying to help girls and women discover their truth worth as children of God. For 32 years, I have been privileged to work in my church’s Girls Ministries program. I became involved in this ministry while I was in college. My 8-year old sister volunteered me to teach a group of younger girls so they wouldn’t be in her class. I was available, so I agreed to serve. It wasn’t long, however, before I realized that Girls Ministries would be one of my life’s missions.
The Girls Ministries program exist to introduce girls to Christ and to help them find their place and purpose in life. One of the primary goals is to help girls realize that they are loved and esteemed by God. Their worth and value as human beings has nothing to do with their abilities, their actions, or their appearance. They are valuable because God created them and loves them.
I once heard a preacher say that the most profound message of God’s Word can be summed up in “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” Jesus loves me and Jesus loves you. He loves each and every girl, regardless of her appearance, her background, her home life, or the mistakes she has made. This is the message we desire to impress on the heart of each girl. John 3:16 is perhaps the best-known verse in the Bible. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” God loves each girl and His love is so great He sent Jesus to die on the cross for her sins, so that she can spend eternity in Heaven with Him.
Of course, the girls hear this message in Sunday School and church. So, why do they need Girls Ministries? I believe that Girls Ministries is important for girls to learn how to fulfill God’s purposes for them as women. Girls need a place where they can meet without boys present. Girls Ministries affords girls an opportunity to be themselves without trying to impress boys and to discuss concerns that should not be discussed in mixed company.
In a girls-only environment, we address sensitive issues such as dating standards and sexual purity. We teach them to apply makeup to enhance their appearance and to dress modestly, so as not to tempt boys to have inappropriate sexual thoughts about them. We give them tools to recognize verbal or physical abuse and encourage them to date only Christian young men who share their beliefs and who treat them with respect and courtesy. We also teach girls that they will make mistakes and they will have to ask God to forgive them. When they seek forgiveness, God forgives. However, they may still have to live with the consequences of their mistakes.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV) Each girl in our program learns that God has a wonderful plan for her life. She can achieve this plan if she follows the instructions in God’s manual. God’s commands are not to restrict her, but to allow her to live life as fully as He has planned for her. A girl who appreciates this truth will not struggle with self-image or lack of worth. She will realize how valuable she is to the one who created her and she will grow into a confident young women equipped to fulfill God’s purposes for her life.