By Donnie Sanchez, Cornerstone Church
If you serve with students, there’s a good chance that you want to see your students step into the fullness of what God has for them. You want to see them find their ultimate fulfillment in who they are in Christ. You get to walk with them through the biggest moments of their teenage lives, and you hope to walk through the years to come with them as they follow Jesus. But if you serve with students, you know that this is a hard journey to walk. We know that we want our students to grow, but where do we begin?
If you’re like me, your first thought is to jump to a new program or a new ministry initiative. You start strategizing ways to freshen things up and repackage the Gospel in a new way. You might think, “Maybe if we shake things up a bit, the students will engage at a higher rate and we can do things in a fresh way.” After all, we want to see spiritual renewal in the lives of our students, schools, and communities. For many, church doesn’t seem like a safe place, so it’s sensible why our first thought is what we need to change in terms of programs and environments. But what if it begins with us?
I would argue that if we want to see spiritual renewal break out, we must seek spiritual renewal in ourselves. Not just by what we believe, but by how we believe. As the book of James points out, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22 NIV). How can we shape our lives and our daily routines in such a way that we allow the Holy Spirit to make us to be more like Jesus and doers of the Word?
Seeking spiritual renewal in ourselves isn’t something we do by our own power. It’s not white-knuckling Christian practice to get what we want, as if it were a formula. Seeking spiritual renewal is posturing our lives in such a way that we are receptive to the Holy Spirit.
So, how do we posture ourselves in such a way that we are receptive to the Holy Spirit? If it’s not by trying harder, being a more compelling speaker, or using bigger and better programs, then what is it? To posture ourselves to be receptive to the Spirit is to place ourselves on the “roads” that God often travels. We could call these “roads” spiritual disciplines.
Whether we use the language of spiritual disciplines or not, we all have them. You might know one spiritual discipline as your daily quiet time with God. In some way or another, we have certain rhythms, practices, and disciplines that shape us to be more receptive to the Spirit’s work in our lives. But our intentionality around our own spiritual disciplines can take a hit in our pursuit to reach students in our communities.
Reaching students and our own spiritual disciplines aren’t at odds with one another. After all, we can’t give what we don’t have. If we don’t know how to abide in the true vine (see John 15:1-17), then we will never be able to lead our students to experience a deep and intimate relationship with Jesus. Remember, we can’t give what we don’t have.
Early Christians in the Book of Acts were known as followers of the Way (see Acts 9:2; 19:9, 23; 22:4; and 24:14, 22). This is because they were known as people who followed the way of Jesus. This is to embody not just a belief that Jesus is the Messiah, but the lifestyle of Jesus. It’s to believe that He is the Messiah and that by actively following Him, we experience life to the full (see John 10:10).
When we look at the life of Jesus, we see a number of things. We see that He engaged crowds who were seeking to know more. Afterward, He would withdraw to be with the Father in prayer (see Luke 5:16). He even called His disciples to do the same (see Mark 6:30-32)!
We also see that Jesus was soaked in Scripture. In various disputes with Pharisees, Sadducees, and experts in the Law, He would use Scripture and show them the right interpretation. On the road to Emmaus, Jesus explained to the two distraught persons how all of the Old Testament points to His life, death, resurrection, and ascension (see Luke 24:13-35).
Jesus was also active in His care for the poor and needy. He was often seen with the people who were rejected by society and had no social status. He was seen healing the sick and restoring the lives of the broken.
Finally, Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath (see Matthew 12:1-8). The practice of Sabbath was made for man. It is something to delight in, not to be oppressed by. Jesus embodied this practice stopping, resting, delighting, and worshiping God—perfectly.
Back to our situations. What would it look like for you to cultivate more intentional rhythms of prayer, silence and solitude, Scripture reading, service, and Sabbath? These rhythms from the life of Jesus place us on the “roads” that God often travels. And on them, we become more like Him. Spiritual renewal breaks out in us, and we can lead our students to it because we have it. From there, our students will go on to transform their communities because they have it.
- Have you been feeling worn out and confused on what next steps you should take in your ministry? Remember to find your rest in Jesus, to pray, to saturate your mind with Truth from God’s Word, and to surround yourself with family, friends, and leaders who will be restorative for your health.
- What spiritual disciplines do you need to implement into your daily routine so that you become more like Jesus in the way you minister to students?
- The Feed Team would love to connect with you as you seek to lead others! Reach out to us at [email protected] to find out how we can partner with and support you in your ministry