As we approach the most stressful part of a young person’s year, Premier Youthwork writer’s day attendee has some words of advice and support for teenagers preparing for and going through exams.
Dear young people,
This letter is written with nothing but love and respect for you. We've entered exam season. I remember well the stress and tension, the constant reminders from teachers that ‘these are the most important exams you'll ever take’ and the feeling that you are going to do nothing but spend the next three months of your life revising.
I wanted to write to you to try and speak some different words into your life. In this time of stress and tension I wanted you to hear some other messages apart from ‘revise, revise, revise!’ and that feeling that your future success and achievements are all based on getting straight A*s.
This isn’t about detracting from the importance of exams, or going against what your teachers are saying! These exams are important, revision is necessary, but what I'm trying to say is that there is more to life:
Firstly, before you take your exams, remember this simple fact - you are amazing. You have gifts, talents and abilities that are unique to you. You have something to offer to this world, something that cannot be taken away, or added to, by these exams. Please remember that. Your worth, your value, in God's eyes is not affected by your performance over these next few months. He already thinks you are amazing.
Secondly - and I say this without any intent of guilt - please don't give up on church. Whether that's Sunday services, house groups, youth groups - whatever and wherever it is that you connect with God, please don't give up on it. Right now, in this intense period of your life you need God more than ever, and you need the support of those around you - to pray for you, to support you. You also need times of fun, times of laughter, times of complete relaxation to not only enjoy yourself but also to help your brain process what you've been revising.
I understand that you may not be able to come every week, or to every session but please don't disappear until your last exam has finished. We want to help you, care for you and pray with you. Also, when your exams have finished - please come back! Don't think that not being able to come all the time means you can never return - we want to hang out with you, to celebrate the achievement of finishing your exams with you!
Finally - don't forget your personal faith. Your own Bible time and times of personal worship are equally important at this time. It's vital that you find time to speak to God, to give him your concerns, your worries and your fears and also receive from him - his hope, his strength, his love.
So please, remember God, remember us, and I hope we will see you soon.
Nick Francis is a youth pastor for an Anglican church in Thame. He is married with two kids, is a bit of a geek and if he wasn't landlocked would love to surf every day.