I could smell the marijuana a mile away when Sean walked into the student center. Sean had been attending our church for a few months. Up until now, he hadn’t caused a lot of problems. As he got closer, I remember hearing the Sprit say, “Do not confront him out of anger but out of love.”
Sometimes the boundary between love and confrontation can get blurred in youth ministry. Sean had become a participating member of our student ministry in a unique way. He began attending because his grandmother had begged him for months to come. I will never forget Sean’s words after I approached him about his drug behavior.
“I don’t understand where you’re coming from, but I appreciate you coming to me out of respect.”
In John 4, Jesus surprises a nameless woman who is in need of help. Although she doesn’t realize that she is in the presence of Jesus, she soon discovers that what she has been thirsting for can only from him. The nameless woman noticed that Jesus is intimately acquainted with her.
When you and I are approaching students, we must realize that Jesus hasn’t called for us to judge, but to introduce them to a God who loves them just as they are.
If we are to approach students and lead them into a relationship with Jesus, there are four attitudes that we must embrace:
Jesus had a dying love for people. Even the woman at the well walked away knowing that she had met someone that showed a true interest in her.
Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah? (John 4:29)
Give your students the benefit of the doubt. Often there are unseen factors that drive destructive choices. Before Sean’s grandmother took him in, he had been abused. After understanding Sean’s background, it became very clear to me why Sean had fallen into drug abuse.
Unapologetically share with students what Christ did in your life and how he changed you. I can remember telling Sean how he and I shared some common life experiences and sin struggles. I will never forget him asking, “Even you struggled with sin?”
Relationships take time and investment. God has given us the authority to make that investment in such a time as this. We must take the authority that we have been given by Jesus Christ and embrace a culture and students who need to hear and see the gospel lived out.
I will never forget sitting with Sean as he crossed over from darkness into light. After a period of intentional relationship building, he accepted Christ. As I baptized him, I reflected back to our first confrontation. I can remember thinking and thanking God for the privilege to have been the one who introduced Sean to Christ.
Maina Mwaura loves to provoke thought to student leaders minds. He is the husband of one wife and the has a two year old daughter name Zyan. Maina, lives in Huntsville, Al. He can be reached at MAINASPEAKS.COM