As a kid, my father used to give me insight on life. You know, the usual pep talks and words of wisdom about how a boy should go about becoming a man. To be honest with you, I didn't really take his advice, most of the time.
I was actually the well-behaved child in the family who did everything to make his parents proud. But, I bypassed my dad's words because his actions and lifestyle did not reflect his advice.
My father was an alcoholic and a heroin addict. At the time, when I was just a middle school student, I only knew about his alcohol addiction. I barely saw my father. He would come home from work, eat dinner, then head out to a bar with friends. After everyone went to bed, I would stay up, kneeling by the living room window, waiting for my dad to come home. As soon as I saw the car pulling into the driveway, I thanked God for bringing him home safely, ran into my bedroom, and slept.
I loved my father then and I still love him today [He & my mom are currently lay ministers at a church in Puerto Rico]. But, seeing how he would treat us, my mother, and knowing about his late nights of drinking and coming home drunk, I just couldn't take his advice. He gave really good advice on life and genuinely tried to steer me in the right direction. But, again, his words were falling on deaf ears because his actions spoke to me louder than his words ever could.
As a youth leader, this is something to take into serious consideration. You may be handing your students some golden words for them to accept and put into practice. But, if you are not living a life before them that exemplifies that which you preach, speak, share, or write, your words are falling on deaf ears.
The Bible gives us plenty of examples about the importance of listening to wise counsel. But, our students lead with their eyes more than their ears. In this media-saturated world we currently live in, we must show them Christ by our actions more than with our words!
So, who are you?
Don't get me wrong. I am not saying that you need to be perfect before your students. You are human, after all. But, in those moments when your sinfulness, humanity, brokenness, and imperfections show up, be open about talking it through with your students. We are all sinners saved by grace. Let's continue to point them toward Jesus with our actions and words.
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