Over the years I have been blessed to see many students rise up and become the active ministers of the Gospel that they are called to be. It has been my experience that when we create an environment in our ministry where students are able to grow deeper in their relationship with the Lord you always see increased kingdom impact. Expectations are not something to be feared in fact they are freeing. To be clear I am not talking about expecting our students to become perfect rule following drones that “toe the line” and seek to make their youth leader happy in order to receive some special blessing! The expectations I am talking about are simply that our students understand that they have kingdom value and power now and not merely when they hit some magical age called being “grown up”. I am talking about a simple expectation that all believers should have on themselves: the expectation that we will grow in Christ and be used for His purposes.
I think the best way to illustrate the principle I am talking about is to allow you to hear the voice of one of our student leaders. The following is an account from my friend Danielle Walters who I have known for ten years and who has been a part of our Student ministry for the past five years. She is a wonderful 16-year-old minister of the Gospel who is an inspiration to me in more ways then I can express. Please hear Danielle’s heart and judge for yourself if we expected too much from her:
“For the past few months I have found myself focusing on fulfilling the calling found in 1 Timothy 4:11 which states: “Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” This passage directs me to become a student who sets an example for other believers. In order for this to be a reality, I need to lead other students, and seek to expand my influence to all believers. God never told me to wait to grow up but rather tells me that if I am willing He will use me today!
This past summer (2011) I went on a mission trip to Panama. God changed my heart, and my life, in a radical way. I realized God’s power cannot be put into a box, and that he chooses to use the most unlikely people to accomplish amazing Kingdom work. On my trip God spoke to me, and showed me what it means to live a life that fully represents who I am in Christ. Since I returned from this trip God has continuously shown me how to be a leader, and has blessed me with so many opportunities to spread his word. Recently, God has truly broken my heart for my generation. He has shown me how corrupt our world is, and how desperately we need a Savior. As teenagers, we live in a society where people say “it’s ok to call yourself a Christian and not truly know God, no one else will know.” People tell us to “go out, get drunk, have fun,” then drive home. They say, “It is ok to lose your virginity at the age of ten, everyone else is doing it.” What these people don’t know is the pain and misery that their actions will cause them, and other people. It’s time that we become a generation that stands up for what is right, and show people what being a Christian is really about. There is a time for silence, but then there is a time to boldly proclaim Christ’s name because we cannot just ignore the lost and corrupt people of this world. Being silent is no longer an option! We need to show this world that there is so much more to this life, and God can fulfill the desires of our hearts in the only complete and fulfilling way. It is our job to tell them of the One who loves them so deeply that he died for them. Jesus died the most gruesome death to offer us the gift of eternal salvation, and this gift is not ours to hide until Christ’s return. If we don’t tell them, who will?
Do not let Satan convince you that you are not capable! There is a prodigy in you that God has designed for a specific purpose. He has created you to be his workmanship, and to reach people in a way that only you can reach. Look at Nehemiah; he was just an ordinary cupbearer who rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem in fifty-two days because God told him to. Read about the lives of any of the disciples, they were merely teenage fisherman who followed Christ completely and changed the world forever! Paul persecuted and killed Christians, but God had a purpose for him and he became an incredible evangelistic man of God. These are ordinary people, who loved God enough to allow him to use them in radical ways that changed the world. We are just ordinary people, but if we allow God to use us, we can lead those lost people to finding their lives in Christ. I believe that our God is so great that if we let ourselves be used by him, we will change the world.”
What if our ministries became more about producing as many Danielle’s as the Lord allowed instead of being shallow and numbers driven? I believe that the passion for Christ exhibited in students like this is contagious. We have invested time teaching Danielle and her peers to rise above the world’s expectations and to invest in the things of God as the priority in their life and we are reaping the benefits as we see our ministry grow deeper and wider!