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Developing Spiritual Disciplines In Your Students: SERVICE

Developing Spiritual Disciplines In Your Students: SERVICE

The great preacher and theologian, Charles Spurgeon, said:

"He is no Christian who does not seek to serve his God."

I think this is a profound sentiment. While we know that, thankfully, our salvation is not earned by our hard work or our good deeds, we also know that a spiritually regenerate heart will motivate us to serve. So, in a way, Spurgeon nailed it: if we are truly followers of Christ, our lives will bear witness to this fact by our service to Him and to others. Christ modeled an attitude of humble service to others, and to God's Kingdom. Jesus famously modeled this in washing His disciples' feet in John 13, but a thread of service ran throughout Jesus' ministry: in His miracles and healings He was not only glorifying God, He was meeting the needs of those with whom He came in contact. In talking about His ministry of service, Jesus had this to say:

For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.--Luke 22:27

But it doesn't stop with Christ. We see the ethic of service throughout the New Testament. These are just a few verses:

Galatians 5:13-14 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." 1 Peter 4:10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God's grace in its various forms. Colossians 3:23-24 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

It's clear . . . as Christ-followers, we are called to serve. What is meant by service? The service we are called to in Scripture is a humble and self-less serving of God and of other's in God's name, so that God's Kingdom might continue to advance on this earth. Of course, the million-dollar question is, "How do you help your students become passionate about serving others? About giving themselves in service to the Kingdom?" Here's a few thoughts. There are more, of course, but these are just a few ways to get started.

Students Need To Believe Service Is Important

Before students can truly begin to develop the discipline, or habit, of service, they must first believe it is valuable. It's up to you to teach students the biblical basis for living a life of service. If students believe it is a valuable part of their relationship with God, they will begin to look for ways to serve.

Students Need To Actually Serve

You can talk about serving the Kingdom all you want, but unless you help facilitate opportunities to serve, students may never get it. Short-term missions are a great way to serve the Kingdom. But so is a weekly, Sunday afternoon missions opportunity to help the homeless in your community. For your students to truly begin to become people who diligently work for the Kingdom of God, they have to experience it. This is one of those times when you working in concert with your students' parents is vital.

Students Need To See Service Modeled

Students need to see you and their parents engaging in Kingdom work. Plain and simple. Are you in the habit of doing Kingdom work? This is not the point where you say, "Of course I am . . . I'm a youth minister." I mean outside of your ministerial vocation. Do you give of yourself over your ministerial duties to serve others and to serve God? More than likely, your students will know if you do. And if they see you doing it, they will be more inclined to value serving. You can't make your students' parents serve. But, you can create opportunities for students to serve alongside their parents.

Students Need To Take Ownership

There is a tipping point where students will begin to move beyond the moments you have facilitated for them to engage in service. This is actually them beginning to develop the discipline of service. I have seen this happen with some of our older students at our church. They have moved beyond the opportunities we have provided to do homeless ministries, to going with their parents and other church staff. They are taking the initiative to serve. They have begun to take ownership. This isn't something you can make happen, but you can encourage it.

Again, this isn't a comprehensive list. But the point is this: you can play a major role in helping your students develop a passion to serve. It is a vital part of our relationship with Christ, one that too many people seriously neglect. But with some intentionality and partnership with parents, you can help lead students to using their lives to make a greater Kingdom impact. 

Share your thoughts with the youthministry360 community:

  • What have you done, or are currently doing, that has helped your students develop a passion for serving?


[ym360 Note: This is the fourth in a series of short posts we've produced on teaching your students spiritual disciplines:


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