138 Dirksen Drive, DeBary, FL US 32713
As school starts, we as parents and youth leaders will probably seek to share some words of encouragement and wisdom with our students.
Maybe our words will include nuggets like these:
- "This is your year to make a mark!"
- "Make good choices" (cheesy but appropriate)
- "Study hard!" (a perennial if unoriginal favorite)
- "Try to leave an impact on those around you"
- "Be you and let others see that"
- "Stand up for what you believe"
All of this is good advice. Unfortunately, it's all works-based advice.
Now, each of the statements above pushes students to succeed, and to raise the bar for themselves and those around them. There is nothing wrong with that. But these words go only so far. In fact, when our encouragement for students is focused only on their performance, we're setting them up to fail.
I can remember walking into school that first day with enough courage to start sharing the Gospel with my friends and stand strong for what I believed. But the courage and boldness I was full of seemed to evaporate after the first week, or sometimes after the first day.
What happened? I was ready! My sail was full of family support, words of encouragement, and enough wisdom to get me through a whole year, I figured.
I think we all wonder what happens when we see students bail on their faith, or develop masks - one for church and one for school.
It all comes down to what a student is being filled with. A cup cannot overflow unless it is being constantly poured into.
When we challenge our students to perform, give, and lead, we are not doing anything wrong. But when we watch our students fail, shrink back, and follow others, we need to recognize that they are seeking to be poured into.
As our students start school this year, I will be meditating over this passage in Isaiah 43:1:
But now thus says the LORD,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
God's love for us is FIERCE! He redeemed us, calls us his, and looks at each of us and says, "You are mine."
As we send our students into this new school year, we can share great words of wisdom, encouragement, and more. But only when our students grasp that God's love for them is protective, pursuing, and indescribably fierce will their cups begin to overflow.
When our students know with utter certainty that they are loved by God with a fierce love, they will grow the confidence to love with a fierce love.
Here is my prayer for our students this year:
We look to you above all else. You are God in heaven and we are here on earth. Help us to soak in your word and let our words be few. As our children start school this fall, we pray that they would understand your fierce love for them. We know they will encounter people, messages, and influences that will call for their attention and offer temporal gain. We pray that their cups would be filled by you and you alone, and overflow with your fierce love onto those they encounter. We rejoice knowing that we are redeemed and that you call us your own. Our heart’s desire, Father, is for our children to know your protective, pursuing, and fierce love for them.
Thank you for making a way through your Son, Jesus Christ, for us to be in your presence. We place our children in your hands. Give us the peace that only you can bring. Turn our hearts to yours so that we may be a Christlike example to our children. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
If you prayed that prayer, let us know about it in the comments below! We also want to know what words of wisdom you gave your students this year, and what new words of wisdom you plan to add to your list.
And one more thing: we can't wait to see your kids in the Chapel 56, Junior High, and Senior High Ministries this fall! We've spent the summer planning an exciting year for your kids - we want to be your partner in helping them grow spiritually. Contact us any time at or .