A month ago we began looking at four words to challenge us as we minister to the students God has placed in our care. The first word we looked at was “Walk” followed by “Love.” Today I want us to consider the responsibility we have to “Challenge” our students.
I tell our Youth Workers on occasion that we do things well, but I don’t want us to be content with doing ministry well if we can do things better. I remember as a middle school and high school student my parents never demanded straight A’s, but they would not accept anything less than my best. The question was always, could you have done better on this test? Could you have worked harder on this essay? I believe the same things applies to our responsibility in ministry… and the same thing applies to how we lead our students.
Our students need to be challenged, in their faith and in the living out of their faith, because I believe that when it is done right, students will rise to the challenge.
In Sunday School and small groups, ask the tough questions. Help them wrestle with the “why’s” of the faith. It’s okay for students to ask, “Why did God let this happen?” In the same way, it’s okay for you to challenge them with these questions, and help them sort through them. It’s not until we are faced with these challenges that we begin to dig for answers. We can’t ask the questions and drop the ball, we must push them and challenge them, then help them navigate through scripture to find the answers. It is inevitable that they will be challenged once they graduate and go to college, the military, the work force, or their parents’ basement. What our goal should be is that we help them find the answers, simultaneously strengthening the roots of their faith and strengthening their relationship with Jesus.
Not only should we be challenging them in their faith, I believe we should be challenging in the living out of their faith. When they are pushed in the right manner and with the right heart, students will rise to the challenge. Our youth praise team is a prime example: out of necessity a group of students volunteered and have been challenged to get uncomfortable in the process. The same goes with our Student Leadership Team and our two trips to Long Island. Students are challenged to get uncomfortable, whether that’s planning an event, leading a team, talking to visitors, or serving in new ways, and they are rising to the occasion. This was a text message I received from a mom this week:
Thanks for giving (my student) the opportunity to lead something. I knew there was a leader hidden in that body somewhere! I really enjoyed listening to all the plans, details about the meetings, etc. when I got (home) yesterday. This will be a great learning experience for (my student).
Think about what this may look like in your realm of ministry with our students… small groups, Sunday School, chaperoning, etc. How can you challenge your students, while keep a balance and not pushing them too far? If you have some ideas, questions, or want some thoughts, shoot me an email.