My Why is Love

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“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”  Mark 12:29-31

We were sitting in a leader meeting at camp this summer when the speaker asked an interesting question.  He asked, “What is the strategy needed in student ministry?”  He had been teaching on the difference between strategy and tactics saying that we are often more focused on the tactics (programs) then the strategy.  He also said that many of us tend to fixate on our own gifted areas and call it our strategy. Many different youth pastors gave answers; relationships, worship, discipleship, mentorship, and more. As I listened it hit me that he was right, we were answering with our favorite areas. Yet, for each one he answered, “That is a tactic not the strategy”.  Now, he had our attention.

He went on to say the strategy in ministry needs to be the “why”, the reason you do what you do.  When you have your “why”, the tactics/programming should follow and it needs to be biblical. If you’ve been in ministry for a while, you have heard this before but when was the last time you took a good look at your ‘why’ and evaluated how you’re doing?  Does your ministry reflect the why?

It’s August, it’s strategy time.  It’s that time of year when we look forward, plan curriculum, events, and trips.  What if we took the time to evaluate our why and adjust accordingly before we start ministry this year?

That’s why I thought I’d share my “why” as a way of being accountable and open and as a reminder too.   My “why” drives me year after year.  It is my “why,” you should have your own, although I’m happy to share.   It drives my decisions, my programs, and the trips we take.  My strategy is to love.

It seems too simple, yet Mark 12:29-31 is the strategy.  When we love God and pursue him single-mindedly, we are leading our students in the right direction showing them what loving God can be and discovering this for themselves. When we help them love themselves, we are teaching them the deep value they have in Him.  When we empower them to love others, they find purpose and meaning beyond themselves. This is the “why”.

 

How will you love them this year?  Beyond the cool event, the amazing talk, or the rockin’ service project, how will your students grow in love?

 

It begins with us loving God, pursuing Him, seeking him, and listening to Him. It is remembering how loved we are and that we are commanded to love ourselves.  It is out of His love that we overflow into loving others.

Could it be that simple?

“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”  Mark 12:29-31

 

This is what it looks like for me:

Love them

Love them well

Teach/help them love themselves

Empower them to love others

 

This is my filter.  It begins with my own pursuit of Jesus and my deep desire for every student to know how loved they are. When we are loved, our hearts are more confident.  We find courage.   We discover strength.  We feel wanted and understood.  When we are loved, hearts open to Jesus. Students need to belong to believe, so we seek to love them to Jesus.

I know that when we love we also open up our hearts to hurt and disappointment.  Love requires authenticity, vulnerability, and hope. Loving well goes beyond knowing a name and sharing laughter to seeing a heart in need of healing and hope.

As you plan, strategize, organize, and create this August, what is your why? It might look like mine but it might not.  It just needs to be yours and it needs to be biblical. If you have a why, here’s a question for you: If I were to visit your ministry, would I see it reflected in those you lead?

In keeping with my why, let me leave you with this. You are loved.  May that love overflow into the lives that God places in and around your ministry this year. May you love well this ministry season.  May Jesus shore up your heart as you look beyond the behavior and attitudes to see the student Jesus loves and help them see that in themselves as well.

Are you excited about your back-to-school event?

Are you feeling motivated to see lives changed?

Are you driven to teach them?

Are you passionate about service?

Are you excited to see students lead?
Underneath it all, may you love.

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Betsy has worked with students for over 24 years and has served at Cornerstone Church in Caledonia, MI for nineteen of those years. Currently, Betsy is the Director of Family Ministry while still holding the high school ministry hat. Betsy also teaches women’s ministry at Grace Bible College as an adjunct professor. Betsy has been married for 27 years with a son in college and daughter in high school. In her free time, she enjoys reading, laughing with her family, and date nights!

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