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Generation to Generation: Leadership Living

This is week 3 of a 10-week series. Each week we’ll be writing about different ways that we, as leaders, can effectively be examples to our students. These topics range from relationships to being active in a small group. All of these topics are nuggets every leader can apply to his or her life. It’s our hope that you’ll check back to see what next week’s topic is, and that you can apply what we’ve learned in your own life as a fellow volunteer youth worker.

This week’s blog is about the importance of leaders living a Christ-centered life

We can’t ask that our students live a life that is Christ-centered if we as leaders are not willing to model what that kind of life looks like. We haven’t put God first if we aren’t loving Him with all our heart, mind, and soul. The best way for students to learn how to do that is to see their leaders doing it first. It’s important for us to model what that kind of life looks like because, for some of the students we come into contact with, they’ve never seen what that’s like. For some people, our lives are the only Bible they’re ever going to read, so are we going to waste that opportunity by living the way we want, or living the life that God wants us to live?

“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit.” Matthew 12:33

Steven: The verse from Matthew (above) is about how we show other people our lives. Everything we do on the outside reflects what our character is like on the inside. If we have a Christ-centered life, which most of the people reading this blog should have, it’s up to us to make sure that what we’re showing on the outside matches what we have on the inside. It’s easy for us to live the way the world wants us to live, but as leaders in youth ministry we have to hold ourselves to a higher standard. I can’t expect the boys in my junior high small group to live up to what I’m teaching if I don’t do it myself. When it comes to youth ministry, or any teaching for that matter, there cannot be a “do as I say, not as I do” mentality. The goal of the series that Matt and I are writing right now is to portray how to be an example to students; this is the best way to do it. If we just follow the example Christ set for us, we can’t go wrong.

In my earlier years in high school, I hadn’t quite decided that I wanted to live my life completely for God. I was still doing things my way. Sometimes that corresponded with the way Christ lived, but most often it didn’t. By doing things my way, I thought that’s what would make me happy, but it wasn’t until I made the conscious choice to live for God that I realized what true happiness is. That is exactly what I want to portray to the students I come into contact with. They might think they know what is going to make them happy now, but just like I did, they’ll come to find out that living God’s way is the only way to find true happiness. We need to be the template for them to follow so that they can learn to live the way God wants them to.

Matt: My life wasn’t always lived according to the Great Commandment to love the Lord with all my heart, mind, and soul. I lived my life according to what was best for me. For me, my American Idol was the hood ornament on a new car every two years. I thought that’s what brought true happiness to my life, but wow was I wrong. Once I realized that not putting God first wasn’t bringing me the true happiness I wanted for my life, I decided I needed to make a course correction in my life. It meant putting God first. Period. I had to make loving God part of my everyday life, in my work life, in my relationships, and in every other part of my life.

As a student ministry leader, I’d love to be able to help my students avoid all of the pain and suffering I experienced later in life because of bad decisions I made as a teenager. Is it easy for today’s teens to live a Christ-centered life? NO! Temptation is all around them. My hope is that by sharing my experiences and the resulting pain later in my life I have equipped them to know they have a choice. Go with God, or go against God. They have the choice to say no to worldly temptations, focus on Jesus, and make the right decision. Life is about choices, I want my students to be well equipped to make the right decision. I want them to see my life now as an open book; I don’t have to hide anything because I’m not embarrassed about anything I do. I want them to see my life as the example, as the way to live their lives and achieve true, deep down, Christ-centered happiness in their lives.