Student Interview Of Me!
I have a former student who is taking a lot of student ministry courses at her Bible college, and she sent me a few questions to answer for an assignment. I gave myself 30 minutes to answer them and wanted to answer from the heart without overthinking it or saying what I think she needed for the assignment. I think that would wreck it, you know? So, this is off the cuff from 21 years of student ministry, with only punctuation edits…
1. What are your highest priorities in ministry?
The first one is that I need to pay close attention to myself and to my teaching. I kinda get that one from 1 Timothy 4:16. I take that to mean that I have a responsibility to maintain my personal walk with Christ. That I’m abiding in Him. That I’m abiding in His Word. Frankly, if I’m not doing those things I have no business in ministry.
Another part of that involves paying close attention to myself is physically…which is often harder for me. Sleeping right. Eating right. Exercise. If I keep up with that part I’ve found that is significant in how I handle the first part.
Which leads to the 2nd part. If I’m in tune spiritually and physically, it helps me to pay close attention to my teaching. I take this to mean that I’m continually learning, growing and developing in my understanding of the Word and my abilities to communicate what God’s doing in my life or had done in my life or even will do in my life.
Another is to remember that the goal of my instruction is love, from a pure heart, a sincere faith and a good conscience. If my students learn a lot of facts and information about Jesus but don’t love their God with their whole heart or their neighbor as theirselves, well, I’ve failed them. I try to keep love at the forefront of the endgame.
2. How do I deal with broken people?
I think the question is how do you deal with people. I mean, if I’m reading scripture correctly we’re all broken, so I’m not even sure what that means. I will say that I try not to focus on whatever’s broken.
I try to focus on the transformational power of the Gospel message. I stole that from Romans 1: 16-17. See, a trend I’ve noticed in Christian publishing lately is a focus on the mess, or the unresolved nature of jazz, or the mercies needed for traveling. While I enjoy these books, I wish the focus was on the “treasure,” and not the jar of clay. A thorough reading of 2 Corinthians 4: 7–16 shows the focus is on the work Christ in the life of the believer to transform them from “brokenness.” So, while I never want to dismiss the brokenness out of hand, I don’t want to focus on it, but rather give guidance to how Christ transforms lives…from ax murderers to suburban toddlers and everybody in-between and around.
Maybe the next books from those authors (well, obviously not Yaconelli) will focus on that.
3. How do you measure success?
I don’t. I see little in Scripture about success.
I try to perform my ministry for an Unseen Audience of One. I guess I’d be successful if I did that.
This isn’t to say that there aren’t things I like to see in my students. So, in the spirit of answering the question, I feel like our ministry is successful if we are serving those gifted, talented and passionate about student ministry to use their gift to help our body mature. Not professionals doing it, but very Ephesians 4 about our approach.
We’d be a success if our students were showing evidence of the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5. I think you can tell if students are predictably loving, joyful, peaceful, etc.
Finally, I think we’d be a success if our students were abiding in Him and abiding in the Word. And praying without ceasing. Funny. But I think you can measure those things, you know?
4. What drives you in reaching that success?
Nothing. I don’t consider myself a driven person.
Again, in the spirit of answering the questions. I want people to experience the changed life that I’ve experienced…that dead to life kind of thing. I want them to enjoy a walk with Christ based on a loving & thankful response to His grace like He was gracious to me.
And, it’s more a calling than a drive, if you ask me. I mean, I have no idea why I have a love for the teenagers and their American subculture. I have no idea why God has me where He has me. I have no idea why He’s given me the gifts & opportunity He has. I simply want to be obedient to Him as He’s provided in His holiness. I don’t think that’s a drive, per se. I think that’s an obedience to His calling me.
5. How does Jesus influence my leadership style?
Again, I’m not sure a view myself as a leader. I’m actually a follower with some responsibilties within the big picture. It’s what we disiciples should do. So, first, I follow my Father.
Second, I strive to love Him and my neighbor. That doing justice, loving mercy and walking humbly with my God thing I have tattoed on my left arm is there for a reason. This love, thing, too, isn’t a feeling. Love is a choice. When we make that choice, the feelings will follow, but I make a choice to love Him and love my neighbors, even when I don’t FEEL like doing either…which is more often than I care to admit.
Third, I want to emulate my King by serving others. The problem with being a servant is that you’re going to wind up being treated like one, which makes the gig hard sometimes. But His model of servanthood is certainly an influence.
Lastly, I’d say that I see the importance of deep & meaningful relationships. It seems like Jesus always had time to develop a relationship with the people he ministered to. Little children. Prostitutes. The infirm. Disciples. He loved people and that meant being in their lives to some degree–which varies depending on the situation. But He loved people…especially His disciples.
Well, have at it, folks…what’d I miss? What’d I hit?