Student Series: The Importance of Equipping and Empowering Students
Back by popular demand, the Rooted Student Series gives high school and college students a chance to share how the Gospel is transforming their lives. We think you will agree that youth leaders and parents can learn a lot from these wise and wonderful kids!
There has never been a more relevant time for students to live a missional lifestyle with regards to our current culture. Americans today have a self-sufficient mindset and are constantly in search of temporary satisfactions. Today’s generation of young people are on a constant search for a purposeful life, but the culture is giving them the wrong directions on their journey toward finding meaning.
I remember when I was in high school just four years ago. The Lord got ahold of my heart sophomore year and eventually, over the course of the next 12 months, he revealed my calling into ministry. As I walked the halls of my school, I was constantly surrounded by students who either rejected their need for God or did not fully understand their need and the grace that was offered through Jesus. My eyes were opened to a new world! I needed to learn how to live life as a believer and follower of Christ.
Since high school, my heart has been burdened for students who share a similar experience – wanting to spread the word of God to their peers. We have to not only help our students understand the current state of the world, we have to equip them to engage with those who do not currently see their ultimate need for salvation found in Jesus. But before our students engage, we must help them grasp the importance of submitting to God so that His heavenly kingdom may be expanded.
God doesn’t need to use us in his mission, he chooses to. When we look at scripture, we see many men and women who God used, even though He was sovereign. Moses gives us a great outline in terms of submission to God for the greater need, in the story of Israel’s freedom from slavery.
It all began when “he went out to his people and looked on their burdens” (Exodus 2:11). Notice that Moses took physical action by meeting his people where they were and seeking to understand their needs and struggles. In that moment, he chose to place himself in the shoes of his people instead of continuing to wear the shoes of Egyptian royalty. He willingly left what was comfortable, the suitable living conditions of Pharaoh’s palace, to walk out among the Hebrew people who were nothing more than worthless slaves to the Egyptian empire (Hebrews 11:24-26). Moses, after identifying with his people, recognized their need for rescue. This is a direct reflection of the story of Jesus Christ, Himself. Leaving His heavenly throne in the midst of comfort found in the presence of the triune God, He “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14), meeting us where we were, identifying with our struggles and fears. This is an important pattern!
We must help our students learn to identify with their peers, leave behind comforts found within the church walls, and engage the world while clinging to their identity in Christ, the one who meets our ultimate need.
As believers, when we are not spiritually prepared and equipped to engage with the lost, we tend to take matters into our own hands, responding in action that is fueled either by self-righteousness or the disorder of our immediate emotions. This seems to be a common temptation, especially for students. When we lose focus on our purpose, to follow the Lord’s guidance and his will for us to “make disciples of all nations,” we allow ourselves to be subjects of error.
Moses shows this after he acknowledges the burdens of his people. He reacts without seeking truth and guidance. In return, he becomes a murderer (Exodus 2:12). Regardless of his behavior and response, God is sovereign. Moses escapes Egypt and eventually meets his wife. After living a humble life tending to the sheep of his father-in-law, the Lord continues His work. A bush in the middle of the desert that is burning yet failing to be consumed is how the Lord grabs the attention of His servant (Exodus 3:4-6). After hearing the Lord calling his name, Moses gives God his full attention. As he begins to turn his ear toward God, he realizes what would become his journey for the rest of his life: guiding God’s children out of slavery, into freedom.
We are all probably familiar with the rest of the story. God uses Moses to free his people, showing His power through miraculous events. From the insanity of the ten plagues and the parting of the Red Sea, to the timely provision seen in the wilderness, God uses Moses to reveal to the Israelites his strength, steadfastness, and the freedom only found in him.
God is the same God today that He was then; He still longs to use us (like Moses), regardless of our abilities, age, knowledge and wisdom! He can do all through all. The last few years of high school, my youth minister encouraged me to hold fast to this truth. Some of the hardest times I’ve experienced were when I was a teenager. Knowing the Lord and His desire for my life, I often felt alone. Pursuing the Lord in the midst of many who pursue the things of the world can seem lonely at times. The option to fall behind and hide for the sake of avoiding the uncomfortable becomes easier when struggling with the fear of rejection.
My youth minister continued to remind me of how much he believed in me, giving direction when needed and helping me navigate my life in order that other’s might see God in a new and beautiful way. I wrestled with sin that hindered me from stepping out in faith, not only sharing what I believed but understanding that even the smallest of my interactions carried a weight that was worthy of potentially planting a seed of influence. Through his encouragement and accountability in pushing me to grow spiritually, to leave behind the things of this world, the Lord used him to open my eyes to the wonders that He could do in and through me. Christianity is a movement. A movement full of power and miracles initiated by a God who loves and cares for us so much that he died for us. This movement is continued as a result of the Lord’s desire to use His children. If this is the Lord’s desire, then it whole heartedly should be ours too! We must believe that our students can be world changers.
Equipping students to acknowledge the current state of their own hearts – lost – is the first step to equipping to identify with their lost peers. And just as Moses and Jesus both aligned their lives within the will of the Father, we must encourage our students to first do the same. It is not until our students understand their need for the Lord that they will then understand that same need for the rest of the world. When their life is devoted to serving God, the supernatural happens. When their life is devoted to God, freedom is found in His undeserving grace. Salvation is here. What a blessing and honor it is to bare this truth!