This week I had an interesting conversation with my wife in which we raised what may be the most important question for parents, leaders, and pastors to try to answer in regard to the young people in a church.
It doesn’t just apply to young people but let’s start there.
As you look at your children, grandchildren, young people in your church, consider the following two options.
Option # 1
For what seems like forever, I have been caught up in the election that took place in the United States. I have always loved politics. When I was a high school student, my favorite book was written by Theodore White and was entitled The Making of the President 1960. I was intrigued by this account of all the things that went on behind the scenes in a presidential election. I should mention that it was a few years after 1960 that I read the book just in case you do the math and make me out to be older than I really am.
The election is over. Donald Trump has been elected to the most powerful position in our world today. He is incredibly wealthy, has a beautiful wife, and appears to have everything that this world can offer a person.
If nothing unexpected happens, he will hold the position as president for at least the next four years mingling with the most powerful, wealthy, influential, talented people in the United States and around the world.
The presidency has a lot of perks that go with the job. The job carries with it tremendous responsibilities but it also has its benefits. In the White House there is a movie theater, a bowling alley, a pool and a few other luxuries that go with the job. The president has his own chef who will prepare him any meal any time of the night or day. He has a plane, helicopter, and limo for his own private use.
He can get almost any entertainer to perform a concert for him at the White House and he can get through to anyone in the world with whom he might like to talk.
As I say there are a few perks that go with the job.
Option # 2
When I was leading a pastor training program in Rwanda a few years ago, I met a remarkable woman. We knew her as Mama Deborah. She worked with people who had been infected with HIV/Aids.
She didn’t have very much money and much of what she did have she poured back into her ministry. She spent very little time thinking about her own needs and a lot of time thinking about the needs of the people whom she served.
She didn’t have any perks that went with her job, just responsibilities. She didn’t have her own bowling alley or theater or swimming pool. She certainly didn’t have her own chef who would cook her anything at any time. She was happy if each day she had enough food to support her needs for that day.
The most exceptional thing about Mama Deborah was her faith in God and her deep love for Jesus Christ and for people in need. She was too humble to be conscious of the impact that she made on people but impact she did make. She certainly impacted my life and I only met her a few times.
As you look at your children, your grandchildren and the teenagers who are part of your church, which of these two people would you most like them to become.
Do you hope that they will excel in school so that they can get great jobs so that they will have good salaries so that they can marry well, have big houses and be in positions of power and prestige?
Or do you hope that they will become people with a deep faith in Jesus Christ and a deep desire to serve people who are in need? Do you hope that they will be people whom other people look up to not because of what they own but because of who they are?
We are called to make radical disciples who will sacrifice everything for Jesus Christ. We are called to be people who are living for eternity and who are not caught up in what this world offers us. We are called to instill those values into our children so that they are able to see beyond what this world can offer and to see what is really important in the eyes of God.
What we hope our young people will become, should affect everything that we do for them during their childhood and teenage years. We have about twenty years in which to instill the values into them that will determine the direction that their lives take. We need to use those years wisely and well.
I had a friend who when he was young chose to give up what was a promising future in hockey because he felt that it was taking up so much of his time that his spiritual life was suffering. When I say that he had a future in hockey, he was in that elite group who could quite possibly have made it to the NHL.
He could have had the fame and financial rewards that an athletic career could have brought him but he chose instead the eternal values that God wants to shape our lives as radical disciples. Are we convinced that he made the right decision?