BIG HARE, BIG FAITH: Give generously in praise to God
A couple of times a year I go through small group leader training with my youth leaders. There are a few items I cover every time we have training. One of the key phrases I believe that I say every time is, “The good news is that I will not ask you to do anything I wouldn’t do. The bad news is that I will not ask you to do anything I wouldn’t do.”
I have done some seemingly crazy things in the name of youth ministry. I have followed a student through the Miami Airport with a wet towel cleaning up puke on the floor as we walked. I have spent eight hours of a Saturday building a gigantic plastic snow globe. I have learned the Thriller dance. I have been tossed in the ocean covered in ketchup, baby oil, and corn flakes. I have chaperoned a high school homecoming dance. I have driven a church bus through Atlanta rush hour traffic with 15 high schoolers in it. I have been on the scene of accidents when parents are out of town. I have gone to numerous ballet performances, Eagle Scout ceremonies, and the like.
Sometimes youth ministry feels a lot like spiritual parenting. I know that if I am willing to do all of those things mentioned above, there must be much more that physical parents are willing to do for their students. It is easy to see this day in and day out as I work with families. In many ways, parents show the love of Christ daily by their willingness to serve. Your students may not realize it until they are parents themselves.
This fall, we shift our thoughts toward being thankful. Yes, of course, we could do this more year round. However, this time of year we can capitalize on it.
In 2 Corinthians 9:8-11 (Message Version) says, “God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done." As one psalmist puts it, He throws caution to the winds, giving to the needy in reckless abandon.
His right-living, right-giving ways never run out, never wear out.
This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God.”
Just as you are generous with your students, throwing caution to the winds, let’s teach our students how to do that also. Whether it is by participating in Crop Drop, looking to see if there is something you can give away, inviting people into your home for a meal, or deciding to give your coffee money to a cause for one week a month.
Jesus taught his disciples how to live generously by having them walk along with him. We want our students to live generously also, and they are with us daily. Students notice how you respond in traffic, to people in need, and even where you are willing to spend your money. These are all teaching opportunities for them. It takes virtually no effort to brief them on why you chose to do this or that. They are already noticing what you do and hanging on your every word. Therefore, use it in such a way that produces great praise to God.
Caroline Hare is the youth minister at Destin United Methodist Church.