Helping students know right from wrong is a vital piece of their spiritual growth. But if we dig a bit deeper, we will see that helping them determine such things on their own is foundational to discipleship and a God honoring life. Students today are constantly capable of making their own reality by lying time and time again. In fact, many students don’t even know they are doing it, and if they know they are, they have no idea why. On a recent episode of the new Tim Allen sitcom, Last Man Standing, the father and daughter are in a discussion on this frustrating truth. Mike, the father asks, “Why did you lie to me?” Eve—who appears to be about 14 responds, “ I don’t know.” He then says, “Does anyone your age know why they do anything?” She replies, “You’re not going to like my answer…I don’t know”.
This portrayal is all too true. Many students lie, and have no idea why they do. I am not the first person to realize our students need help in this area. There are many studies that show this truth. In a study, done by the Jopheson Institute, researchers found that “more than two in five said they sometimes lie to save money (48 percent of males and 35 percent of females). While 92 percent of students believe their parents want them to do the right thing, more than eight in 10 confessed they lied to a parent about something significant.” In his book When Kids Hurt, Chap Clark has found similar data with ideas that “only 5 percent of adolescents say they haven’t lied to parents” and students saying, “Everybody lies, and everybody knows that everybody lies” (153).
We may be able to help students to know right from wrong by trying to help them be honest. I don’t think this is possible by policing our students or children, but maybe it is possible if we take advantage of opportunities presented to us. We can help students by allowing them to notice when they are being dishonest, telling lies, or cheating. This can be done through conversation rather than direct discipline (although that may play a part). When a lie is present, just say, “It’s okay to admit you lied; are you telling the truth?”
We can also help students with the honesty issued by being an example for them to follow. Are you being honest with them? With your spouse? With outside companies? On your taxes? Are you okay with always being honest? Students want to follow a great example of godliness and honesty in their life.
Will you be that example of honesty and integrity for them to follow?
Read Exodus 16
He told them, “This is what the Lord commanded: Tomorrow will be a day of complete rest, a holy Sabbath day set apart for the Lord. So bake or boil as much as you want today, and set aside what is left for tomorrow.” Exodus 16:23
…the Sabbath is the Lord’s gift to you. Exodus 16:229b
FREE Ministry Management Solution
1. The passage uses the phrase “complete rest” – what does that look like for you? What benefits do you think you would discover from that type of break from ministry on a more regular basis?
2. God set the Sabbath up as a model for us to follow. What are the things that prevent you from following God’s plan for your schedule?
3. The Sabbath is the Lord’s gift to you. How are you treating this gift that God has given you?
Are you ready for this? Take a long nap. Yep, we said it.
Go for a walk or a bike ride. While walking or riding, ask God to bring to mind a relationship that needs a little extra attention. Make a mental note, but DON’T do anything about it today!
Spend some time with the people in your life who matter the most.
Un-plug…completely. Don’t turn on your laptop, turn your phone off, and let calls go to voicemail.
by Jen DeJong , YMA Senior Consultant
The frontage road near my house had some major reconstruction a few years back. They put up a new stone privacy wall along the highway, cleared out the hill next to the frontage road, and put down these huge stones on the frontage side of the privacy wall. Within a week of this work there were weeds already 2 and 3 feet tall growing out of the concrete, out of the huge stones, and out of the stone wall. Now years later the area is covered in weeds.
Sometimes I feel like my journey as a Christian looks like that privacy wall with weeds growing up through it. I try so hard to stay on the path that God wants for me (the highway) and even create habits in my life (the wall) to help me stay on the path but sin stills manages to creep in (the weeds). Pulling weeds is a continual part of being like Christ. If I stop worrying about the weeds, pretty soon I won’t be able see beyond them and may not know the difference between weeds and the flowers in my life.
What weeds are growing up tall around you? Can you tell what is a weed and what isn’t?
As Paul closes out his letter to the Romans, he urges them to watch out for “weeds”:
I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil. Romans 16:17-19
We need to remember that being like Christ is not a one time thing but a life long journey. And our life long journey to be like Christ affects our ability to minister to youth. Weeds will grow up all around us and we have to continue pulling them from the roots. We also have to know how to tell the difference between flowers and weeds because sometimes it’s hard to tell. Our youth are in a phase of life where weeds and flowers really don’t look much different sometimes. “Be wise about what is good and innocent about what is evil”- I challenge you to be a model for your youth watering the flowers in your life that God has given you and pulling the weeds before they overtake you.
Jen DeJong , Senior Consultant
Youth Ministry Architects / Children’s Ministry Architects
Building Sustainable Ministries……One Church at a Time
Phone/Fax (877) 462-5718
Jen began working in youth ministry in 2002 as the Youth Program Coordinator at First Presbyterian Church in Nashville, TN. Jen graduated from Vanderbilt University with a B.S. & a M.S. in Developmental Psychology with a special emphasis on parental involvement in teenagers’ extracurricular activities. Jen currently resides in Belleville, IL (a St. Louis suburb) with her husband, Marc, their daughter Maria, and their two dogs.