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My students are challenging me

March 19, 2010

Just over a year ago I stood in front of a group of young people on a Friday night and asked who among them was going to so push into the things of God, so strive for holiness, so hunger and thirst for righteousness that their lives would challenge me.

We were talking about revolution and the call to follow Christ and how there’s no such thing as a teenager and I – as I’m prone to do – moved the bar up.

Some people like to tell Husband and I that we keep that top bar on the students too high. That it’s unrealistic. That we expect too much of them.

I tell them it’s not my standard.

Jesus said “take up your cross,” and we smile when we read it instead of cringe. Jesus said that anyone who loves her mother more than Him is not worthy of Him. Jesus said if your eye causes you to sin you should pluck it out (and I don’t think he was being literal, but – as Brian Zahnd likes to say – I do think He was being serious). Jesus told His disciples to be “perfect” as His Father in heaven is perfect.

And then I tell them that their attitude belies their opinion of teenagers, and that it’s the same attitude that is allowing young people to waste their most capable years. (Sometimes I tell them that. Sometimes I just think it really loudly.)

I have found, in general, that people will rise to expectations you set. If we don’t expect much of young people, they won’t do much. And that’s exactly what’s happening in our society. Some people will use high expectations as excuses, but those people would have found some other excuse to stay mediocre anyway so I don’t mind weeding them out.

And now, a year after we really pushed the bar up, there has been some weeding and there has been amazing growth, and just last week I realized – or was reminded – of that dare and how some of them have absolutely met it.

There are young people – high school students – who are challenging my walk with Christ by their lives. There are a couple of them who are challenging me to fast more and better. There’s one who is challenging my understanding of Love, and the reality that faith without works is dead. There’s another who’s challenging the consistency of my prayer life. There’s yet another who is challenging how I share my faith.

Not because they ask annoying questions. Not because they probe. Not because they’re snotty and obtuse. Because they are running after God, and – darn it – they’re starting to really catch up to me. They’re challenging me because I’m not about to let any of them overtake me in this thing!

Am I disappointed in the ones that are not? Absolutely not. It’s difficult to live this life at any stage, and everyone’s situation is different. Am I angry at the ones who have quit? Not at all. Husband and I pray for them constantly, and believe that God will draw them back to Himself somehow. Do we love any less the ones who are not running any faster since last year? Jesus doesn’t, how could we? Do I think they could do it if they tried? You betcha.

But to those who are catching up – You’re amazing. You are proof that “teenagers,” can be young adults if they want to. You are proof that high school students are not the “future of the Church,” but that you are the Church. You met the challenge, and now I’m finding myself having to run harder and I love love love that.

You bless me more than you know. We love you guys. Thank you.

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