There is something powerful about a life of doing good deeds for other people. When Mother Teresa was alive, she had earned the respect of the entire planet because of her lifelong sacrificial work in the streets of Calcutta, India.
When your students do good things for others, they too will earn a reputation throughout their school as someone who loves God and loves others. This reputation can open the door for them to share Jesus in a powerful way.
That’s one of the reasons why a life of doing good is a critical piece of our God-given faith sharing gear. And as youth leaders, we need to coach our students to use this piece of gear effectively.
Scripture explains it this way:
Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:15-16).
David Kinnaman’s book UnChristian documented the damage Christian hypocrisy (perceived or real) wreaked on the 16 to 29 year old nonbelievers the Barna Group surveyed. Hypocrisy was one of the distinctives this age group most commonly associated with Christians and Christianity.
This demonstrates how essential it is that we help our students understand that how they live their lives before the world really does matter. Sharing their faith isn’t just about words, it’s also about actions. Tilling the spiritual soil with a life of good deeds opens doors for the gospel message. It also allows us to represent Christ well to a watching world, for we must always remember that 2 Corinthians 5:20 tells us we are Jesus’ ambassadors:
We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
So here are some specific ideas that can help you get your students started down this road. Encourage them to try one or more of the following:
- Buy lunch for someone
- Invite someone to the coffee shop for a long conversation about how they’re doing
- Write notes of encouragement to those who seem down – either pen and paper notes or Facebook posts will work
- Take time to listen
- Help others with their homework
- Sit with somebody during lunch you don’t know well and get to know him or her
- Coordinate a school-wide canned food drive for a local rescue mission
- Coordinate a toy drive for kids
- Organize a lunchtime fast to raise money for a food bank
- Get a group of teenagers from your school to visit a retirement center on a Saturday just to talk to the elderly and to encourage them
Challenge your teenagers to be creative. The list of possibilities is almost endless. The point is to motivate and mobilize your students to live a life of good deeds – not to “earn” their way to heaven – but so any charge of “Christian hypocrisy” can die the death it deserves. Help your teenagers see that a life of good deeds opens doors for the message of the gospel and allows the light of Christ to shine in their lives for all the world to see!