I was deep in reviewing my confirmation lesson plans when I got a text from one of my high school seniors: “I need to talk to you, can I come to your office?” Uh oh. You never know what this could be about. I knew it wasn’t about a break up because this student was currently not seeing anyone. My best guess was that it involved his parents, but I knew it had to be important because it was on his lunch break. What hungry teenage boy would sacrifice his lunch break to talk?! This is definitely going to be something important. I clear off my desk and whip out my Bible and Kleenex in preparation of his arrival.
He comes in dismayed, as expected, with a paper clenched in his hand. He looked absolutely defeated. Flash backs of previous conversations with him through out the years show like a film in my memory. I see scenes from his past of a younger boy who admits his doubts, fears, and sins. The reel fast forwards to the present and I realize I have never seen his face as distraught as this, surely something horrible has happened. As he opens his mouth to speak, he trembles and the words don’t quite come out. Instead, he decides to hand me the paper clenched in his hand and says, “Can you explain this?”
As I stare at the paper to try and make sense of what could possibly have him this confused and defeated, I realize it is a car loan. What? A car loan?! That’s what this is all about? “What do you mean, ‘explain this?’” I ask him; “It’s a car loan.” “ I know,” he states, “but I don’t understand what any of it means.”
Isn’t that the truth? As a youth pastor I find myself investing a majority of my time on learning on how to teach the gospel to the students in a creative and effective way, when most of them have questions about the world they live in, now. I sat down with this student and used a dry erase board to explain a car loan, interest, principal, and all the other good stuff. As he began to understand different elements, you could see the weight lift off his shoulders. Before he left to return back to school, he lingered in my doorway a bit and finally said, “I knew God would help me.”
Wow. How many times could I have been the answer to a student’s prayer, but instead I tried to resolve their question with a Bible and Kleenex? Of course there are times when that is THE answer. However, when do students need you to help them solve every day life problems? As I continue to explore this avenue in my ministry I encourage my fellow faith leaders to do so as well. Discern moments in your ministry where you can teach students the basic principles of life. Find ways to educate them on finances, relationships, college, how to write a resume, how to take a professional interview, time management, cooking, and more! If we assume that our students know the basics, then we are missing an opportunity to minister.
Teaching students how to function and even be successful in society can help their understanding of the gospel and Christianity. As they began to learn how to problem-solve some of life’s biggest issues, then they can relate to scripture on a different level. Maybe through helping our students mature in society, we can in turn help them mature in faith.
Glory to God,