Developing Students Who Are Faithful for a Lifetime
Over the past several weeks, we have talked about how to minister effectively with students. One overriding question we need to ask is: How do we develop students who leave their college days with the tools to be faithful to Christ after 10, 15 or 20 years?
One person who has done a lot of thinking about that question is Steve Garber. He has written a fascinating book entitled The Fabric of Faithfulness (InterVarsity Press). In the book he discusses issues of moral meaning, integrity, consistency and connecting what we believe with how we live. They are issues that not only impact the students we teach, but our own lives as well.
Garber has identified three reasons that students become and stay faithful. They are:
1) Convictions - They were taught a worldview which was sufficient for the questions and crises of life, especially the ones implicit in our culture's secularization and pluralization.
2) Character - They met a teacher (mentor) who incarnated the worldview which they were coming to consciously identify as their own. They met someone who lived what they believed and was willing to share why.
3) Community - They made choices over the years to live out their worldview in the company of mutually committed folk who provided a network of stimulation and support which showed that the ideas could be coherent across the whole of life.
Read through those three items above again, and I think you will quickly see how you can play a strategic role in that development. First, we must be honest seekers of a consistent worldview ourselves. Second, we must be willing to share those ideas in the context of "real life."
Jacques Ellul in his Meditation on Ecclesiastes writes, "Remember the Creator during your youth: when all possibilities lie open before you and you can offer all your strength intact for His service. The time to remember is not after you become senile and paralyzed! Then it is not too late for your salvation, but too late for you to serve as the presence of God in the midst of the world and the creation. You must take sides earlier - when you can actually make choices, when you have many paths opening at your feet, before the weight of necessity overwhelms you."
Scripture: Ecclesiastes 12:13,14 - "The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgement, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil."
Action Point: Think through how you communicate your convictions, character and community to those around you. What one thing could you do better?
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