I ran across this verse in my quiet time the other day, and it hit me the right way:
According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.--1 Corinthians 3:10-11
I want to offer a very simple thought for us as youth workers:
We are architects, builders, and/or designers and our students are unique structures, buildings in various states of completion, with different needs.
OK, OK . . . The analogy may not be the most personal, but stay with me a second . . . Paul was addressing those Corinthian Christ-followers who had made the mistake of choosing sides. Some were claiming to be followers of Apollos, another teacher there in Corinth, while others were claiming to be Paul's followers. Paul is in essence telling the Corinthians to settle down. Paul realized that through his teaching and example, he had laid a foundation of faith that someone else would build on. And he was totally cool with it.
Back to you as a youth worker and my (admittedly) clunky example of looking at students as job sites. Here's what I mean:
Just as every job site is different for a builder, every student's spiritual blueprint is different for you, the youth worker. And thus, your role in their lives as a builder is different.
What are some of the different roles you play? Here's a start:
Working On A Team Of Builders
For some of these students, their parents have laid an awesome foundation of faith in their lives. In these cases, you have the incredible opportunity to join the work in progress, helping shape the structure that is already taking form. This is the ideal job site, the one where everything is working as it is intended.
Assisting As An Experienced Builder
For others students, you may be looking at a foundation that has been started, but maybe has some structural flaws. Or maybe the work has come to a halt. In this case, you'll need to roll up your sleeves and work side-by-side with the parents to help complete the foundation. They are willing to invest the sweat equity needed to do the work, but simply need your expertise to partner with them in bringing the foundation up to speed. This is where you are playing the role of encourager, equipper, and empowerer.
Doing The Heavy Lifting On Your Own
Still, for other students the job site really doesn't even exist. Maybe the trees have been cleared and the site is prepped. But no foundation has been begun. In this case, the foundation work is going to fall to you. And you may be doing the work yourself. Is it ideal? Nope. But, you're called to shape this building into a solid and lasting structure. Not taking the job really isn't an option.
The spiritual needs your students have differ from person to person. Knowing those needs helps you know your role in addressing them.
So, what kind of builder are you?