Let me tell you about a train of thought I had the other day, and where it led me. I was thinking about word-pictures, and now much they help me understand what I writer is talking about. What, everyone doesn’t sit around thinking about literary devices? Anyways, I love it when authors create good word-pictures. I thought about authors I’ve read like Don Miller, Francis Chan, and others who are really good at this. Then I thought about Jesus, and about how he taught using parables and word-pictures a lot. You know, “The Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed…” Stuff like that.
Then I thought about the writer of Hebrews. In Hebrews 10:24-25, he (maybe she? Who knows…) writes, “And let us continue to spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
Have you ever seen spurs? Like, for-real cowboy spurs? They’re basically ninja stars that people attach to their boots in order to help get their horse to move. With spurs on, an accomplished rider can urge the horse to do things that the horse really doesn’t want to do.
That’s because spurs hurt.
Spurs literally dig into the horse’s side with a sharp point. The horse doesn’t like the pain, and so it tries to run away from it. Presto! Now the rider is moving, and focuses on controlling the direction of the horse with the reigns, bit, and bridle.
Novice riders are not provided with spurs. That’s because it takes an experienced rider to a) be able to handle a galloping horse, and b) use spurs responsibly and effectively. A inexperienced rider with spurs usually just ends up hurting the horse and getting thrown, possibly resulting in broken bones or death.
Here’s the point: in youth ministry, one of our jobs is to spur our students on towards love and good deeds, and towards personal spiritual growth. Spurring often involves a little bit of pain in order to motivate movement. Don’t be afraid of making your students a little uncomfortable, if it will motivate them towards growth. But also don’t spur them on too hard, either. We want to motivate them, not injure them or turn them off of Jesus.
Just a little encouragement for my youth ministry friends today!