My whole life I watched my mom impact the lives of youth on a daily basis. Her deep passion in life was to enter into the lives of her players or students and bring out the best in them. Honestly, I believe it was her passion to impact the next generation that stirred my heart for youth ministry, where I served vocationally for over seven years.
Recently, I was afforded the opportunity to reflect back on all that my mom taught me about shaping the next generation and my seven years as a youth pastor into a talk I gave titled “How to Impact a Kid’s Life & Eternity”.
The teaching was broken up into 3 overarching points (because how could I be a good preacher at heart if I gave you more or less, points?!?). They were:
- Be – Who do I need to be to impact a kid’s life?
- Know – What do I need to know to impact a kid’s life?
- Do – What do I need to do to impact a kid’s life?
This teaching is for all of us who have a hand in shaping the next generation, which is a way of saying that it’s a teaching for all of us. No matter if you are a teacher, youth pastor, children’s pastor, coach, mentor, a parent raising your kids, or a friend of someone who has kids, we all have a responsibility to shape, inspire, equip, empower and impact those who follow in our footsteps.
This series will be posted in three parts (edited and summarized from my talk to be more readable) beginning with: who do I need to “be” to impact a kids life?
WHO MUST I BE?
But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” – 1 Peter 1:15-16
It was the late Scottish pastor, Robert Murray McCheyne, who said, “The greatest need of my people is my personal holiness.” Ultimately, McCheyne understood that Jesus was the most important for his people, but he also understood that he needed to show his people an example of what it meant to follow Jesus.
To be holy is simply to be set apart. We need to show youth an example of what it means to be set apart to follow Jesus into the way of flourishing. Practically that means that we spend time with Jesus and live a life aligned with the teachings of Jesus.
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17
What does God want for our lives? For our lives to be filled with rejoicing, thanksgiving and prayer! Who must we be to impact the lives of kids? We must be a grateful and worshipful people, but we must also be a continually praying people!
Prayer is a life changing practice. It changes us, it moves the heart of God and it influences the world. Let us not overlook or get overwhelmed with this practice. Prayer is simply talking with a God who wants to listen and has the power to help.
Therefore, pray continually. Pray for the youth you lead daily. Pray for them. Pray with them. Teach them how to pray. Pray for them when you wake up. Pray for them when you go to sleep. Pray for them on your commute. Pray for them before your meal. Pray for them right before you are about to lose your cool with them! Ha. Pray continually.
Honestly, there is no perfect “type” when it comes to impacting the life of youth. So often in youth ministry, when I asked people to join our ministry, they would reply that they weren’t the right “type” that would do well in that environment.
You want to know the right “type” of person that impacts kids? The person who shows up, shows interest and is authentically themselves. Full stop.
Kids range across the spectrum of personalities, gifts, and interests. So do the adults that impact them. That’s why we need you. We need you simply as you are today. Kids do not need you as you wish to be or as think you should be. They just need you and that will be enough. I promise.