There are a seemingly never ending supply of choices to make. These can be trivial things like, “Do I have a bagel for breakfast,” to the more significant like, “What college should I attend?” Choices are everywhere and need to be dealt with in daily life.
Youth ministry comes with a certain amount of impulsive behavior. So, when too many choices are presented to youth, there can be confusion about what is the right thing to do. Parents and youth pastors would like to think that their students would draw from the wisdom they have been taught and choose God’s way. But, how good are middle or high school students at making wise choices?
What can we do as parents and youth pastors to help students make godly choices?
The only way to prepare them to make wise choices and help them learn from their choices is to consistently teach the Word of God. The answers to these situations they are in comes from God, not from any of our own minds.
For an example of how this works, let’s look at Proverbs 9. There we see wisdom and we see folly personified as two very different people. They both are calling people to come and be a guest at their party. They both are at the highest place of the city, looking out on the people as they go about their life. What is the difference between them?
1- Wisdom comes from God – This is obvious, but shouldn’t be missed. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” (Proverbs 9:10) God alone is wise. No one figures out how to be wise on their own; they need input from one who is wise. After all, who determines what is right and wrong? There must be some standard.
2- Wisdom is based on what is real while folly is a counterfeit. This is when some activity or thing is seen as so wonderful that it will make life the most fulfilling. Folly makes itself look appealing with enticing offers. “Stolen water is sweet; food eaten in secret is delicious!” (Proverbs 9:17) The problem is that while it might look appealing, it is nothing but a lie. These traps are easily fallen into, if we aren’t paying attention to what is true and what isn’t.
3- Wisdom leads to life. Folly leads to death. There is a stark contrast here. Wisdom has a wonderful buffet meal of “prepared meat” and other items, while folly has “stolen water.” Wisdom says, “Leave your simple ways and you will live.” (Proverbs 9:6) Whereas, in the company of folly one suddenly realizes that they are among the dead. — “Her guests are in the depths of the grave” (Proverbs 9:18)
There is blessing in God’s way of doing things.
It is my prayer in youth ministry that students are getting the Word of God established in their lives through their family life and through their experience in our ministry. The goal is not to make the message relevant, but to take a relevant message and help it connect to them. The Word of God will direct actions, if it is allowed to do so. The challenge is to motivate students, or any of us, to apply it to real life.
The question in all choices we make is, “Will this choice I make take me to where I really want to go?” No matter what we do with our time, we are moving in some direction. Those that are living in wisdom will want to get closer to God, while those far away just seem to keep a distance, listening to their own ideas.
May each of us live wisely and pass on that heritage to those who look up to us.