When students are exposed to realities of this world – injustice, poverty, AIDS, slavery, and lack of clean water – they have a greater desire to serve and take risks for God. When the reality of this world collides with the fake financial security of their lives, they stand at a crossroads and ask themselves: “What is God doing in this world and what part do I play in it?” This question, “What part do I play?” is what we as youth workers need to hear.Of the many privileges of being a youth worker, one of the most fulfilling is the opportunity we have to explain to students the mystery of how God uses His people to carry out His will on earth. It can be powerful to help a student understand that after conversion we don’t just go to heaven but stay here to do amazing things for Him. We need to unlock their perspective and transform it, so they will see life with an eternal view. We must help them understand how they can get the most out of the few years they have to serve Christ. The best way to connect them to a life of service for God is to show them how they are uniquely made for an important role in God’s Kingdom. Here are a few ideas on helping students understand the importance of serving in their giftedness.
First, we need to challenge students’ world view. Typically students see the world as revolving around them. They become self-reliant and prideful. When students are exposed to realities of this world – injustice, poverty, AIDS, slavery, and lack of clean water – they have a greater desire to serve and take risks for God. When the reality of this world collides with the fake financial security of their lives, they stand at a crossroads and ask themselves: “What is God doing in this world and what part do I play in it?” This question, “What part do I play?” is what we as youth workers need to hear. Once students ask this question we have an open door to teach them about how God has made them for a unique mission.
Second, we must help students understand that God’s plan for them can be known. The statement “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life” begs the question, “so what’s the plan?” The plan is revealed through the way God has wired us. God not only gave us a mission but a SHAPE to accomplish that mission. By learning about our SHAPE and giftedness we begin to understand how God has made us.
When teaching this concept to students I like to use this formula to explain how to discover your mission: Burden + Passion + Vision = Mission. I believe that when students discover these three things, they will have a road map to the mission God has for them. Let me be clear – the discovery of your burden, passion, and vision will only give you clues to the ultimate mission God has for you. It is not a silver bullet but it will point students in the right direction. Through experience the formula can be refined. This is how I teach this formula:
Burden is what breaks your heart. Many times during the week, I will hear of some great tragedy in the world, and I think, "Lord, when will it end?" and then go about my day. But, when I hear about a tragedy that involves students, often I will feel led to pray, cry, or do something tangible to help in the situation. This is because I have a burden for students. My heart breaks when I am confronted with students who miss the best God has for them.
Passion is what you love to do. It’s what gets you up in the morning. I also like to ask this: “In what activity do you feel God’s pleasure on your life?” My passion is discipleship of students. I feel closest to God when I am sitting in a circle of students and teaching them how to use a prayer journal or a new Bible study method. I feel God’s pleasure on me when I am teaching students. I love the feeling of God smiling down on me.
Vision is God’s calling for your life. Vision is what happens after you get past ‘me’. God will give you a vision when you get your eyes off yourself and get them on Him. Vision only comes through prayer. I encourage everyone to have a prayer journal not just to write out prayers but to see how God is answering them because those answers indicate His vision for your life.
Mission is burden + passion + vision. When students put burden, passion, and vision together they will not only discover their mission, but also joy. Students often ask, "What happens if I hate the mission God has for me?" This is the great thing about God—this formula tells us that we will always love the mission God has for us because it includes our passion.
Consider the story of Nehemiah as an example of a leader who lived his mission. Nehemiah had a broken heart for the remaining people in Jerusalem. God had placed a passion in his life for administration, so much so that the King of Persia had put him in charge of his whole household and put his life in his hands by making him cup bearer. God gave him the vision to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls of the city. Nehemiah’s love for his people brought him home. His skill as an organizer allowed them to finish the wall in 52 days and his willingness to follow God brought the King of the Universe glory.
The truth is when God wants to do something great He brings a baby into the world to do it. Your students are those babies. God has given them everything they need to accomplish the task. Let’s help them understand and prepare for the mission. After all, that is our mission.