Thursday, September 16, 2010

Faith in Action

I've been going through a series on Wednesday nights with our high school students on how to be an effective blocker for Christ. That probably means nothing to you. Here's the series so far in a nutshell:

I watched Emmitt Smith's hall of fame speech and there was a part in there that completely changed me. He spoke for a long time about how he got to where he was and all it required of him... then he got to personal "thank-you's". He went down through the list. Started with family, close friends, coaches, and eventually made it to teammates. He talked about the two guys that everyone was anticipating: Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin. They were the other two of the "triplets" that America referred to them as. He was a little teary-eyed as he spoke to them and expressed his thanks... but it was what came after them that just touched me. He got silent for a few seconds and hung his head down real low. When he looked up, he was crying. He simply said, "Daryl Johnston. Where are you?" The crowd went wild and started yelling his nickname in the NFL, "Moose."

Daryl Johnston was Emmitt Smith's blocker on the Cowboys. He was the dude who ran in front of Emmitt and blocked off all the defenders, making a clear path for Emmitt to run the ball. When Emmitt began to speak about Daryl, he just started weeping. One of the lines he said to him was simply this, "People don't know how much blockers in the NFL have to sacrifice. You sacrificed EVERYTHING for me." See, Emmitt was the one who got to run and score the points and receive the award and get the glory. Johnston was the one who made that possible. But Johnston never got much recognition or glory. He didn't receive all the awards and his name wasn't in all the papers. But that wasn't the point to him. His purpose on that team was to do everything he could to make Emmitt Smith great. And Emmitt knew that... and here he was in front of the entire world, weeping, expressing his love and thanks to his friend.

I watched that and couldn't help but think, man... that's so how we should be for Jesus. Willing to sacrifice EVERYTHING-- our name, our fame, our glory-- to make Him great. We should wake up every day ready to lay aside ANYTHING in order to clear a path for His glory to be shown.

So that was kind of what I talked about the first night to just lay the foundation for the series. The following three weeks focused on the question, "How?" I think a lot of times as leaders we tend to inspire the students with things like, "Let's be blockers for Jesus!" but then we leave them hanging. They get all pumped up and excited but walk away going, "But how??"

So here were the next three weeks:

We have to eat. One of the most important aspects of a good football player is his diet. He's got to eat, and a lot. He's got to get his bread and meat. In the same way, we as Christians have GOT to have our spiritual feeding through daily time in the Word. I challenged the students to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner with God every day. Breakfast = Just a quick Psalm or Proverb in the morning before school. Lunch = Writing down the verse from the morning and looking at it one more time. Dinner = Sitting down and spending about 15 minutes in the Word and writing out a prayer to God.

We have to play. We can't be good football players if we're sitting on the bench. We have to get up and get in the game. In the same way, a lot of young Christians find themselves just kind of sitting back and watching. But we can't do that. We have to get in the game. (I'll expand on this one in a minute.)

We have to stay within the boundaries. In football there are certain rules and boundaries a player must follow. If he gets out of those boundaries, there is a negative consequence. In the same way, God gives us boundaries by which to live... conduct to avoid... if we really want to be effective in bringing Him glory, we MUST live by those standards. We must stay within our boundaries.

Back to #2-- the message for the night centered around James 2:14-26, which talks about the concept of faith without works being dead. Of course this doesn't mean that we work in order to get saved. Instead, I believe it means that we work because we ARE saved. We can't just go to church and read our bibles and do nothing with it. We've got to live it out... we've go to put it to action. That's how God's glory gets shown. But for so many high schoolers, putting faith to action is scary. This is another area where many of them are left with the challenge, "Live out loud! Put your faith to work! Do good things! Bear fruit!" and they think, "Yeah! I wanna do this! I want to get off the bench and start playing hard for God!" but then they go home and again they ask the question... "But... how??? What does that even mean?"

schoolers aren't ready for that. The thought of actually having to walk up to someone and straight up witness to them FREAKS THEM OUT! The thought of truly caring for someone's needs seems impossible without having any money.

Truth is-- yeah, some high schooler are just plain apathetic about this whole faith into action thing. But most of them in my youth group aren't. They actually have a desire to do something. They just have no idea what to do... what they CAN do.

So I tried to make this super practical for them. I made a guys list and a girls list of random acts of kindness they can do. I gave them all a list and told them to keep track of which ones they do and how many times they do it. The challenge is to do every single thing on the list at least once by Christmas. So for the rest of the semester, they're challenged to seek opportunities to randomly bless friends, family members, strangers, teachers, coaches, leaders, etc.

Now I know there are a lot of "random acts of kindness critics" out there. I understand that doing things for the sake of an assignment or a challenge is pointless if there's no heart and love behind it. I understand that there was nothing random about Jesus' actions... he had a perfect intention for every good thing he did. I get all that. But the point of this is to help these students see that there are VERY easy, doable ways to live out their love and hope and faith every single day. When they finish this list and bring it back to show me, my instructions will be this: Do it again. And again. And again. The point is for this to become an everyday thing. It should become natural. It should be who we are, not what we do. And I believe the more we do these small things, the more we will be ready to do the "big things."

God has already started blessing my students like crazy with this! They're texting me 20 times a day telling me things they've done and ways they've been blessed by it. It's awesome! I can't wait to see the fruit of this semester!!!

Here is a list of the girls' challenges, just in case you want to join us!

  1. Invite someone who doesn’t normally sit with your group to sit with you at lunch.
  2. If there’s a new student, introduce yourself and ask if there’s anything you can help them with. (Either in person or on Facebook)
  3. Thank one of your current teachers for what they do. This can be through email, a card, in person, Facebook, whatever. (No, this isn’t being a suck-up!)
  4. Leave a random little treat on someone’s desk, car, doorstep.
  5. Make a handmade card for someone just to encourage them.
  6. Write someone a handwritten note like in middle school days and give it to them at school.
  7. Look up today’s birthdays on Facebook and tell everyone on your list happy birthday.
  8. Give a birthday card/treat to someone at school who you don’t normally talk to.
  9. Offer to help someone who is struggling with classwork or homework.
  10. Make t-shirts to support friends in the youth group and wear it to their game/concert.
  11. Compliment three people a day.
  12. Bring a treat for everyone you eat lunch with. (A piece of gum, a Reeses cup, a candy cane, whatever)
  13. Attend ballgames, concerts, shows of friends in the youth group.
  14. Write a little verse or quote on a sticky not and put it in or on a friend’s locker.
  15. Buy someone’s drink or snack for them.
  16. Thank someone for just being them (for being someone who always smiles, who’s always happy, who’s bold and always stands up, etc.)
  17. Bake cookies and deliver them to a widow (or elderly couple) in the church.
  18. Pick flowers and put them on someone’s car or doorstep.
  19. Offer to babysit one night… for free!
  20. Attend a little kid’s ballgame.
  21. Hold an umbrella for someone as they walk to or from their car in the rain.
  22. Write a letter or note to someone who has impacted you and tell them thanks.
  23. Leave a verse or little note on your receipt at a restaurant.
  24. Go out of your way to hold a door for someone.
  25. Call a family member you never talk to.
  26. Give out a few $5 Starbucks cards randomly.
  27. Help a random person unload their groceries into their car.
  28. Offer to put up someone’s shopping cart for them.
  29. Let people in when you’re in traffic.
  30. Send an email to a past teacher thanking her and update her on where you are now.
  31. Leave a “good morning” note for someone in your home to see when they get up in the morning.
  32. Give a random hug.
  33. If there aren’t enough chairs, be the first to get up and offer yours or go get another chair.
  34. Leave a “thank you” card for your mailman.
  35. Leave your change in a vending machine on purpose. It’s a nice surprise to find!
  36. Call or text your parents randomly just to say, “I love you.”
  37. Cook a meal for someone as a way to say “Thanks.”
  38. Bring cookies or do-nuts for your Sunday school class or small group.
  39. Smile and say, “How are you?” to a complete stranger.
  40. Do the dishes at home without being asked.
  41. Offer to take a sibling or friend out for ice cream for no reason.
  42. Buy someone a Sonic happyhour drink and take it to them as a surprise.
  43. Have a good attitude for an entire day.
  44. Send a verse in a text to some of your friends.
  45. Go an entire day without saying one negative thing.
  46. Give your parents a “thank you” card and thank them just for being good parents.
  47. Invite a younger girl in the youth group to hang out with you.
  48. Take your neighbor’s trashcan back up to their house for them.
  49. If you’re with a group of people and someone isn’t eating, offer to buy them a meal.
  50. Pay for someone’s drink, food, snack, whatever just because it’s their birthday.
  51. Leave little treats or verses in the teacher’s lounge at school.
  52. Make a “gameday” basket for one of the athletes in the youth group.
  53. Make a list of 10 things you love about someone and give it to them.
  54. Make friendship bracelets for friends.
  55. Print copies of pictures that you think your friends might want.
  56. Thank the cafeteria lady.
  57. Thank a bus driver.
  58. Thank a custodian.
  59. If someone in your class is missing, Facebook them and make sure they know the assignment and see if they need anything.
  60. Decorate lockers for birthdays.
  61. Walk with someone to class who you don’t normally walk with.
  62. Go an entire week without having a single negative tweet or status update.



Anonymous said...

This is such a good idea! Too many "teacher" just inspire, but don't really teach. Great work!

Anonymous said...

This is good stuff! Mind if I borrow it for my youth??