A psychology professor at a prominent university knew her students expected a terrifyingly long, final exam. Being the psychology professor that she was, she decided to toy with her students’ minds by writing a single question on the final exam. As the students filled the room and turned over the one-page exam, they all glanced around in amazement.
The professor’s insidious smile widened as she observed her students’ reactions. At first, they all looked relieved, but as the difficulty of the question dawned upon them, the once relieved faces sagged into consternation—all, that is, except for one student.
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Take time during your regular youth group meetings to discuss how someone has lived courageously.
After reading the question, this particular student twiddled with his pencil for a minute and began tapping it innocuously on the side of his forehead. He scribbled something quickly on the test, walked up and handed his paper to the professor. With a stern face he stared her straight in the eyes and then raised the corners of his mouth into a half smile. Then he lowered his gaze and confidently walked out of the classroom door.
The professor still staring at the paper began to chuckle and wrote “100%” on the top of the student’s test. The question: “What is courage?” The student’s answer: “This is.”
There are a lot of moments in ministry when we are tempted to think that we, or the students that we lead, aren’t capable of doing courageous things. For whatever reason, the warped views of sin can cause us to look at others or ourselves and think negatively about our capabilities. However, as Scripture has shown, God has a habit of using “weak” and “ordinary” people in order to achieve courageous and extraordinary things. As you are working on developing a Gospel Advancing Ministry, embrace the fact that ordinary people can live courageously through the power of God. Here are three practical steps that will help BOTH leaders and students live courageously.
1. Embrace Your Inner Underdog
Everyone loves the story of an underdog. There is something about an ordinary person who lives a courageous life that draws us in. Ordinary people are just that—ordinary. When we see someone ordinary, at some level, we identify because we see ourselves. So when an ordinary person does something courageous, it encourages us to believe in ourselves, and invites us to do the “unlikely” or “impossible.” Encourage your leaders to model a life worth following (Check out our podcast for more help on Recruiting the Right Leaders). Challenge them to share their courageous stories with the students they lead.
One of the most courageous things any person could ever do is hold onto their convictions. Help your teenagers realize that being courageous doesn’t always mean rushing into a burning building. Sometimes being courageous simply means living out your faith in situations where there may be costs and consequences, i.e., you may be ridiculed or your popularity could take a hit.True courage is living out your Christian convictions no matter the cost. Click To Tweet
2. See Weakness as Strength
Believing that God “chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful” turns our conventional human wisdom on its head (1 Corinthians 1:27). People just don’t normally think that way. When we think of what is powerful by secular standards, images of fit physiques, powerful job titles and wealth usually come to mind. Yet Christianity sees straight through these false ideas of strength. It teaches that God is where true strength and courage lie, and without Him, everything is just worldly human posturing that projects a false image of strength.
Help your adults and students see their “weakness” the way God sees it—as the very thing that will help build His kingdom. There are a lot of students who have been told that they are “no good” or “untalented,” but when you show them that God uses the weak, they are encouraged to strive toward greatness—in dependence on Him.
3. Create a Storytelling Culture
For millennia humans have gathered around the campfire to tell stories of courage. Why? Because they inspire us! Try to create a culture of courage by capturing stories. Students need to see that being courageous is more than what we see in a superhero film. Take time during your regular youth group meetings to discuss how someone has lived courageously. This will inspire everyone, including your adult leaders, to live differently. It will also provide great opportunities to pray for your students and encourage them along as they live courageously for THE Cause of Christ. Once your students are energized to live courageously, equip them to make disciples with some simple resources like the Life in 6 Words App or Website.
Living courageously is not easy—if it was, then it wouldn’t be courageous. But within Christianity, we find the greatest example of courage in Jesus. He, against all odds, stood up for the sake of all humanity. While some may say that we could never accomplish such greatness, remember what Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works” (John 14:12).
Let’s dare to bravely live out this courageous truth.