Friday, May 1, 2009

The Passion And Calling Of A Youth Leader (Intro)

Judges 2:10, Ezekiel 22:30, Isaiah 58:12

The challenges and opportunities in youth ministry are both dynamic and unending in many ways; dynamic, because you are never sure of the next challenge that may surface the next minute and unending because the battle for the souls of our young people continues till Christ comes for His church. And so, we must fight! But the battle is not physical; many adults are fighting for the souls of our youths in the flesh, thinking their shouting and discipline is what saves. Both are good. But only grace saves. Only God saves. So how must we fight for their salvation? This theme will form part of a series I will be writing in subsequent editions and I believe God will give answers to all our questions. Please pray along with and for me in this regard.

In Judges 2:10, the Bible gave a sad account of a generation in Israel that knew not the Lord, nor his works. “And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel.” (ESV)

What? That’s strange! How could a people in Israel not know about the mighty works of the Lord? That’s strange! Or is it? Something tells me the adults of their time failed in their responsibility as parents and guardians to model their lives in a way that pointed to another greater than themselves; GOD. They probably failed to point the younger generation to the stones set up for a memorial of God’s awesome acts and salvation. They probably failed to recount the numerous cenotaphs of God’s grace that marked the generations before them; the miracle at the Red Sea, the mystery of the pillar of fire, the brazen serpent, the punishment of Nadab and Abihu as result of disobedience, the zeal of Phinehas, the provision of water from the rock, the…the… the list is indeed endless.

Surprisingly (or not), we see this trend continue even in our days; sadly, even in the church. When fathers go to sleep, sons go to sleep. When fathers chase after success and personal achievement in neglect of their God-ordained vision for the home, the sons pursue after sinful pleasures. Even history has always proven this to be the case many a time.

So what is the place of a Youth Leader in the battle for the souls of our youths and in raising a generation passionate for the glory of God? Ezekiel 22:30 gives us a clue; “And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found none.” (ESV)

God is looking for a man/woman that is willing to stand in the gap for the souls of our young people. God is seeking for a remnant of enthusiastic and yielded souls that are willing to forsake their own desires and pursue after God’s vision for the youths. God is looking for God-chasers who will say “I will stand in the gap and pour out my life for the sake of these young ones”

Isaiah 58:12 says, “And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in.” (ESV) God is looking for ‘radicals’ that will say, “It’s not about me, but HIM” God seeks a remnant that is passionate about the holiness and glory of God. By God’s grace, I have been (and still am) greatly privileged to serve and raise leaders. I always tell youth leaders this – “Until your heart burns with a passion and overflows into the youths around you, their hearts may not burn for Christ either”

Youth ministry is very delicate and precious before God; it’s an awesome thing to see young people leading other young people in the way and precept of the Lord.

The true measure of success in youth ministry is not how many youth programmes you hold, or night vigils attended, friends made, number of youths that come to church every Sunday… no, no, no! The true mark of a successful ministry is how much of Christ in you is deposited in the youths you lead, how much passion burns in their heart for the holiness of God as a result of your life and how much of God’s glory they pursue as a result of your life of service.

This is just the introduction – in subsequent editions, I will expand the theme and focus on the purpose and vision of youth ministry, how to receive a passion for the youth ministry, the challenges that youth leaders face and how to do youth ministry without losing your head.
In the meantime, I commend you to God – may you be kept by the Lord.

Written by Joseph Iregbu
Author, “Even in the Well...”
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