Several years ago, I was working with our youth leadership team at our church. The youth leadership team were the youth who were willing to take on a leadership role to minister to others. We had been working with the youth ministry team (adult leaders) to develop a mission statement for our youth ministry.
We developed the acronym WILD as a part of our mission statement: Worshiping, Inviting, Loving, and Discipling. Thanks to Youth Specialties National Youth Workers’ Convention theme that year, The Wild Kingdom, I even had a cool logo. You have to remember this is in the early 90’s when Survivor was cool. We loved it. WILD Kingdom was a great way to teach who we were trying to be. However, one student who was good at English pointed out that the phrase only told what we do, not who we were. We needed a subject. After much debate the word servant was chosen over the leader, disciple, youth, etc. I couldn’t have been more pleased with their theology.
Our youth ministry became Servants of the WILD Kingdom! Although the mission statement has been revised to fit today’s “cooler” social dynamics, I still love this phrase and was reminded of it this week as I was preparing a sermon on 1 Timothy 4: 6-16.
We commonly think of this chapter as “Timothy’s call.” It is probably better entitled “Timothy’s instructions.” But maybe that is part of what a call is: our personal instructions as a part of God’s great plan. So what does Paul instruct Timothy and us to do?
“If you put these instructions before the brothers and sisters, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound teaching that you have followed. (vs. 6)”
Back to Servants of the WILD Kingdom, our leadership team debated those words and chose servant for several reasons. A Christian leader follows Christ and leads as he or she follows. A Christian leader servers others. “The son of man came to serve, not to be served.” One of our youth put it this way, “Being a servant means that you are not your own master. As a servant, I give up my life for Christ.”
I find the closing comment in verse 16 very interesting, “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; continue in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers. (vs. 16)”
We don’t save ourselves. We are saved by grace. But as a leader who has been through places of despair, depression, pain, and frustration along the journey of faith, I understand Paul’s statement. We “save ourselves” by following these instructions, because are reminded of that which we already know which allows us to live for Christ. If you are in a difficult place on your faith journey, make sure that you are in the scriptures, talking with God, and serving others. Allow these disciplines to be means of grace in your life.
As you live out your instructions, God will use you as an instrument to save others.
How are you living out God’s instructions for your life?
We are hearing from numerous youth ministers that during this season their plate is just too full. Caring for others is a ministry staple, but often it comes at the expense of caring for oneself. Self care for the Youth MInister is so important. If you don’t take time for yourself and your own relationship with God, not only will you suffer, but eventually your students will too.
We’ve created a Pandemic Youth Week curriculum bundle that combines elements of both a summer camp and a youth week. Many youth are missing out on both of these due to cancelled camps and trips among other cancelled important events your youth would usually attend. We’ve written this curriculum such that it can be used in person while socially distancing, online, or some combination of both.
Despite all the challenges the pandemic has presented to youth ministries, it has also created an opportunity to allow youth more involvement in worship. Although youth sunday will look very different this year, it is a great opportunity to empower our youth to be leaders. Youth’s comfort and familiarity with technology make them a great resource for churches who are seeking to move their worship services online for the first time.