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influence much?

May 8, 2008

I got involved in student ministry because I LIKE teenagers. Well aware of my own imperfections, the plan was simply to spur them onward and upward while dealing with my own shortcomings behind the scenes. (That still is the plan, don’t worry.) God uses imperfect people, and I qualify, so I signed up.

The idea was to be a good influence and teach what I’m learning and see them go from glory to glory as they usher revival into their schools and change both the expression of Christianity in the northwest Chicago ‘burbs as well as people’s jaded perception of teenagers.

If someone had told me that in addition to picking up on the things I’m doing right, they would also – probably unconsciously – begin to mirror the things I’m doing wrong I might have thought a little harder before taking this job. Irrevocable callings aside, the Lord and I would have talked about it a little more.

I obviously don’t know what it feels like to be a parent but I’m going to make this statement anyway: I feel like a parent. Like when you (not any of you, of course, but that ambiguous “you” that’s out there) accidentally let a swear slip out in front of a toddler and he walks around the house for the next hour yelling it at everything. I feel like, overall, I’m getting better at doing what I’m supposed to do, but I get frustrated at myself for letting an occasional obscenity slip out (figuratively speaking).

I can’t tell you what it does to me when I see one of them break out of that shy anti-worship thing and actually love on God during a worship set. Or how awesome it is when I see one of them, from across the church lobby, doing the right thing where she’s stumbled so many times before. Or when I hear from someone else how impressed he was at a teenager’s humility.

On the other end of the spectrum, I can’t tell you either what it does to me when I forget to aggressively pursue humility and I see pride and arrogance manifesting in the handful of students I work closest with. Or how angry it makes me when my own season of spiritual apathy rubs off on them.

Of course it’s not entirely my fault, and someday they’ll have to answer for themselves like I will, but I wonder how much of it, sometimes, is my bad influence and it scares me. Is this the fear of the Lord that is the beginning of wisdom/hatred of evil?

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