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3 Youth Ministry Truths We Can Learn from Caleb

3 Youth Ministry Truths We Can Learn from Caleb

I want to focus on a very simple phrase from an essential scene in God's work to deliver the Israelites to the Promised Land. To set the stage, Moses has just sent the 12 spies into the land to scout it out to prepare to conquer the land God had provided for them. You know your biblical history, so you know that all 12 of the spies reported that it was an impressive piece of land. And yet 10 of these men said “Yeah, it's great, but there is NO CHANCE that we can inhabit it! Too many challenges. Too many roadblocks.” Only Joshua and Caleb believed that God was powerful enough to overcome the challenges of conquering the land. They stood up to the ten other guys, and as a result, God honored them while punishing the rest of the spies (and their extended families).

You know the story. But check out this powerful truth contained in what God said to Caleb when He pronounced His judgment on the ten unfaithful men.
[21] But truly, as I live, and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD, [22] none of the men who have seen my glory and my signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and yet have put me to the test these ten times and have not obeyed my voice, [23] shall see the land that I swore to give to their fathers. And none of those who despised me shall see it. [24] But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it. [25] Now, since the Amalekites and the Canaanites dwell in the valleys, turn tomorrow and set out for the wilderness by the way to the Red Sea.” - Numbers 14:21–25

God pronounces judgment on the ten spies, then says this . . .

“But my servant Caleb . . .”

I love this contrast. “In spite of all that I had done for you – the 12 plagues, parting the Red Sea, etc.- you still doubt me. But not Caleb!”

God singles out and praises Caleb and Joshua. Because these guys had honored God, he honored them. He saw their faithfulness in the face of a tidal wave of opposition and rewarded them.

As we ask ourselves, “What can we learn from Caleb’s example,” don’t miss this: God said that Caleb “had a different spirit and has followed me fully.”

Let me ask you, as you do ministry in your cultural context, how is your spirit? Do you follow God fully? Are you willing to stand boldly with the Lord against the culture around you (even if that stand has to be made within your church? Or do you go along to get along?

Here are three things we can learn from Caleb when it comes to doing youth ministry:


Caleb acted out of his faith in God, not out of his own understanding.

All 12 of the spies said that the land God was leading them to was amazing. But the ten unfaithful spies reported that the people inhabiting the land were too powerful for the Israelites to defeat. This was probably a logical assessment based on what they saw with their eyes. But Caleb saw with his faith. He believed God could and would overcome any obstacle because God had PROMISED that he would.

When you're faced with youth ministry challenges, it's vital that you rely upon God and His faithfulness and not always on your assessment of the problem. Take God at His Word. He doesn't make promises He doesn't keep.


Caleb wasn’t afraid of making the unpopular decision.

What we don’t read in this passage but that is recorded elsewhere is that the people tried to kill them when Joshua and Caleb stated their faith that God would help them take the Promised Land. That’s a pretty rough response to simple professing faith in the God who had already delivered the people from so much.

We often encounter people as we lead who oppose our faith-stands. Maybe this is from outside of your ministry. And maybe it’s from within. It’s never the wrong decision to boldly stand on God’s truth. Opposition may come. But God honors those who “follow Him fully.”


The tough work of standing strong doesn’t go unnoticed by God.

God saw Joshua and Caleb. Their faithfulness was noticed and rewarded. When we take a stand and act in faith, it is God-honoring. And God honors our faithfulness.

Ministry has its challenges. If you’ve been doing youth ministry for more than about a week, you know this to be true. God’s desire for us is to face these challenges with a “different spirit,” a spirit that knows our deliverance comes from God and trusts Him to work according to His Word.

 Andy Blanks discusses these truths in our video blog and podcast below!

About The Author

Andy Blanks

Andy Blanks

Andy Blanks is the Publisher and Co-Founder of YM360 and Iron Hill Press. A former Marine, Andy has spent the last 17 years working in youth ministry, mostly in the field of publishing. During that time, Andy has led the development of some of the most-used Bible study curriculum and discipleship resources in the country. He has authored numerous books, Bible studies, and articles, and regularly speaks at events and conferences, both for adults and teenagers. Andy and his wife, Brendt, were married in 2000. They have four children: three girls and one boy.