Have you ever heard of the 40 developmental assets?
Through years of study and research of more than 2.2 million young people, researchers at the Search Institute have compiled a list of 40 assets. The higher the number of assets that “Teenager A” possesses, the less likely it is that Teenager A will engage in high-risk behaviors, and the more likely it is that Teenager A will thrive.
I’ve attended a few seminars on asset mapping and development in the past, so the concept isn’t new to me. When I recently heard a brief discussion on Focus on the Family’s Weekend magazine concerning this topic, my ears perked up. You can listen to the 6-minute segment here (the portion regarding developmental assets begins around 47:30). Mark Holmen of Faith at Home explains the significance of developmental assets and then relates how researchers have uncovered the correlation of faith to many of the assets. The asset that researchers chose to label as “religious community” is directly linked to 30 other assets! In other words, if a youth possesses the asset of religious community, that youth is very likely to also have 30 additional assets. Research has revealed that at-risk behaviors (such as drugs, alcohol, sexual activity, and violence) are lowest if a youth has 31 or more assets.
I would wholeheartedly agree with Mark Holmen’s suggestion that “religious community” would be better labeled as “faith relationship,” and specifically a faith relationship with Jesus Christ. And does it not blow you away that researchers have “uncovered” factual evidence that relates to the enormous impact of faith upon the development of children or youth?
In the words of Jesus: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they might have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) Certainly, that Scripture speaks of eternal life, but what about abundant living in the here and now, a life not devoid of assets but filled with them? Perhaps I am taking extreme liberties with this text in relating it to the study of developmental assets, but Scripture is replete with example after example of the blessings that follow the one who chooses to follow Christ.
As I write this, many in our community and extended Aim Right “family” are praying for a 16-year-old young man who is currently in the local hospital in intensive care, battling numerous complications related to a still-high blood sugar level from his recently diagnosed diabetes. This is a young man who would sometimes drop by my office in the afternoons to read the Bible, who sacrificially gave of his time on numerous occasions to clean the church (without complaining!), who has asked me this heart-wrenching question, “Why didn’t someone introduce me to Jesus earlier?”
Many entities (such as schools, churches, YMCA’s or Boys and Girls Clubs) take a structured, intentional approach to asset development. At Aim Right, we don’t have a distinct program labeled “Asset Development.” At the end of the day, however, we are about asset building, within the framework of “religious community” or a “faith relationship.”
The young man I mentioned above is living proof of that fact. By God’s grace, many more youth like him are also being impacted to live a life for Jesus.
And that, in the terms of research, is asset development. The fullness of life that comes from the influence of the asset that matters most — Jesus.