RISE- JAN 14th. OUR CENTER, OUR IDENTITY.
What makes someone a “good student” or a “good kid?” What is the tool or bar we are measuring success with? For many it is either, the ability to achieve a tangible benchmark OR stay within the framework created for them. Generally, a student’s success is measured through answering the following two questions:
Are they keeping their grades up?
Are they staying out of trouble?
So long as the answers to both these questions are “yes,” we are usually satisfied with the lives of the student. We may also throw Church attendance in or an extra activity/sport as bonus additions to this list:
Are they involved in Church or Youth Group?
Are they good at playing their instrument, sport or other activity?
So if the answers to these questions satisfy us as parents, mentors, peers, ect......does it also bring the same satisfaction to the student? Unfortunately, recent studies show that rates of depression, feelings of loneliness, and anxiety are on the rise in all students ages 11-18. Why is it that even students who follow the rules, get good grades, and attend Church are not happy? Could it be that our tool or standard for measurement is not sufficient enough?
We would like to propose two questions, based on biblical principles found in Colossians 2, that may just be better:
What is the center (most important) part of their identity?
How are they doing at living this out?
In Old Testament Times, “holiness” or “goodness” before God was seen through primarily obedience. If you open Leviticus you will find rule after rule that was designed to keep people obedient. When Jesus came he made it clear that such rules were insufficient and antiquated. This was one of the greatest subjects of conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees. Jesus made it clear that FAITH was the foundation and centerpiece to being a disciple, not one’s ability to follow rules. In Colossians 2, Paul echoes this code and standard on a deeper level:
“20 Since you died with Christ and were made free from the ruling spirits of the world, why do you act as if you still belong to this world by following rules like these: 21 “Don’t handle this,” “Don’t taste that,” “Don’t even touch that thing”? 22 These rules refer to earthly things that are gone as soon as they are used. They are only human commands and teachings. 23 They seem to be wise, but they are only part of a human religion. They make people pretend not to be proud and make them punish their bodies, but they do not really control the evil desires of the sinful self.”
So what then is the true measure of success if it is not merely good grades, following rules and weekly Church attendance? It is the same standard Jesus challenged his disciples, that standard is FAITH. So do how often do we ask our students about their Faith vs. how often we ask them about their grades? Are we okay with them acting “good” even if their thoughts are perhaps not Jesus centered?
If we want to make and produce healthy and effective disciples, then Jesus must first become the most important thing. He must become King and Lord of our Lives. He must become the center of our identity. Imagine if we asked less about grades and more about the impact our students are having in the lives of others. What if, instead of giving rules to be obeyed, we first gave our students a greater passion and purpose to pursue?
If our identity is merely defined by the things we do or the opinions of others, we will always be left wanting and unsatisfied. Pursuing a feeling, rather than a purpose. If we center our identity around the one whose image we were created in, then we can begin to live out our true purpose….
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