I was able to take a tour of their youth department and get lots of ideas on things that we might be able to do in our new building. However, one thing that caught my eye was the students and their behavior in Sunday School. Don’t get me wrong… they weren’t bad or disrespectful, and the leader was doing a great job teaching, but the students just seemed… like their minds were somewhere else. We’ve all seen that glazed-eye look, and have probably sported it ourselves during a message or two on Sunday mornings. Can I get an amen? (Sorry, Dad.)
In ministry, it’s easy to see the reality of the battle that Christians face on a daily basis, and it’s a privilege to help people fight it every day. But even pastors are susceptible to that glazed-eye look. It’s so easy to go about our days overwhelmed and forgetting that Christ should be at the center of all things when we have distractions like bills, deadlines, dates, or relationship issues. It’s hard to keep God at the center of our thoughts. As an adult, it’s easy for me to wrap my mind around the fact that all the different areas of my life are connected to each other: my relationship with God, my job, my family, the Tuesday morning breakfast at Strasburg High School, the baseball game in Bennett, the quick trip to King Soopers. But so many students don’t have a grasp on this concept yet… everything is compartmentalized. School is separate from home which is separate from church which is separate from friends, and so on.
I believe that the American church consistently fails to realize how real God is. I don’t mean to imply that we don’t believe in God, but I would submit that we don’t often think that God takes part in our every day, normal lives. I think this is true for just about every teenager I know. The more I’ve talked to our students and heard what they’re concerned about, what their days look like, and the things that they think, the more I understand that this whole “God thing” is just one part of their lives. Not something that is their life.
If we don’t live our lives with God at the center, keeping our armor ready, we will become distracted. Slowly, our eyes will glaze over and we’ll become more worried about how we look, what others think, our pay check, our grades, our health, or our family. And trust me, these are all areas that Satan loves to whisper lies into; areas that can be twisted and made hard and turned in on themselves. But if we make sure Christ is the glass that we view every part of our life through, then suddenly, the message on Sunday morning isn’t boring… and even that trip to King Soopers becomes a little more meaningful. The things learned on Sunday at church or Wednesday at Youth Group mean so much more because they touch every part of our lives and strengthen our armor as we learn and grow. Our family is expanded and there is grace. Bills become something we trust God to provide for. Jobs become an entrance point for us to love others. King Soopers becomes a place we can encourage someone we bump into… and so much more!
But the key is keeping God at the center, and using our armor to keep him there.
My challenge for us all, adults and students alike, is to remember that this “God thing” is not just an every-now-and-then or a most-of-the-time thing. But instead, that we realize how critical keeping our eyes on Jesus is, in every area of our lives. If you’re an adult with a teenage son or daughter, I encourage you to help them realize that their relationship with God isn’t something that should be compartmentalized or ignored. Share your wisdom with them, and be compassionate as they discover some of the lessons you’ve already learned, so that they can begin to keep God at the center of their life as well and be ready when the attacks come.
MVF Youth Pastor