Spiritual Maturity: A Note to Youth Workers [Part 4 of 4]
Part 4: Best Practices
“I’m a student, not a guru.” I love that quote from Derek Sivers’ book Anything You Want. Even after selling CD Baby, the largest seller of independent music on the web, for hundreds of millions of dollars, Sivers encourages his readers to disagree with the points in his book and to then share their points of view with him. Sivers models the leaders are learners lifestyle. Part 4 is called "Best Practices," but that’s only because “some really good ideas” isn’t nearly as marketable. So while I will share one strategy for developing a spiritual growth plan for students, understand it's just that: one strategy.
- Do your homework.
- Pray for wisdom and clarity.
- Read what the Bible says about spiritual growth.
- Read what others say about spiritual growth.
Plan with the end in mind.
Part 3 in this series included a helpful definition of spiritual maturity, but it’s important to personalize yours. What does a spiritually mature student look like? Our ministry phrase “we want our graduates to not graduate from their faith” gives us a picture. We envision a college freshman, successfully navigating the temptations on campus while living with purpose and passion for Jesus. We considered what a student needs to know, feel, think, and do, and we described it in general terms under three broad categories of “knowing God,” “knowing themselves,” and “knowing their world.”
Put meat on those bones.
Planning with the end in mind gives you a skeleton. It produces statements like “our students will know the Bible,” and “our students will pursue purity.” Those are great! But what does it look like? What do you actually want students to know, do, and feel? How do you want them to act? These questions helped us fill out our skeleton.
Build a roadmap to get there.
Don’t stop! You’re close, but this next step is the second most important one to take. You know where you’re going, but how will you get there? My family will travel to Washington state to see family this summer, but we need to formulate a plan on how to get there. The same is true with discipleship. Telling a student you want him to love God more this year is a terrific goal, but what’s the plan? This step takes more time and plenty of scrap paper. It could be frustrating, but get it done. And if after a year you decide it’s not working the way you hoped, don’t worry, because that’s where the final step comes in.
This is the most important step to take. It’s a reminder that there's no formula that guarantees success. Even if you’re doing well this year and next, don’t assume it will continue the following year. Be a student, not a guru.
Most believe in the importance of student ministry, but few have a plan to do it well. Don’t worry about building the perfect plan, just build one and rebuild or redesign as you go. Making disciples is hard work, but it’s a high calling.