Biblical Relationships in Youth Ministry

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A biblical relationship is one that has at its center biblical principles as we relate human to human.

Relationships are with those both inside and outside of the youth ministry.

We relate to youth, youth parents, and youth volunteers.  And other staff. And children. And senior adults. And, and, and. I wrote an entry in my blog a few weeks ago about the loss of civility–the very dignity that we should extend to others and a quality that witnesses of the presence of God in our lives.  I was feeling pretty convicted, so I am going to recycle the article here.  I will let you draw the lines in youth ministry. Keep in mind that Jesus said in Luke 6:32, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them.”

The idea is that we extend civility to those who love us and whom we love as well as to the person who cuts us off in traffic or who is wearing a striped shirt at a sporting event and who makes a call with which we disagree…

On Civility

I am not happy with having to write this blog.  God is beating me up pretty good about a character flaw of mine.  I hate injustice.  I don’t like it when the playing field isn’t fair or when “who you know is more important than what you know” or when the Golden Rule is really “the one with the gold makes the rules.”

Then my pastor preaches a brilliant sermon on dealing with injustice. You can find it here www.fbno.org/sermon. Pastor talked about the injustice in the world and the emotions of being the victim of injustice. He left us with some insightful questions: Will I still love God when I am the victim of injustice? Will I love my neighbor when they are wronged? Will I still follow Jesus or will my discipleship waver?

This hit me like a brick in the head because my inner four-year old screams “that’s not fair” on a pretty regular basis. The gut check for me comes when I have to test whether it is injustice or whether I didn’t get my way. The ones who scream the loudest about inequality are those who are “less equal” than others. I pray that in cases where I am “more equal” than others that I am still concerned about those who have less power, less status, less influence, or less resources.

Then I was watching an ESPN interview with a panel of basketball officials regarding the way coaches and players treat the referees these days. Commentary was also provided about the way the fans treat the players and coaches and referees as if the purchase of a ticket allows immature and even offensive behavior. They remarked that there appears to be a “loss of civility” within college basketball. It was an excellent piece, though slanted towards a favorable view of the officials. I couldn’t find a link to it, but in my search I came across an article that ESPN senior writer Tim Keown wrote in 2004. Find it here: http://espn.go.com/page2/s/keown/040127.html. The sad part is that over the last 10 years, it has gotten worse. My search

God has allowed me to have a pretty raw month of delayed flights, purchases that were “not exactly as advertised,” un-kept promises by people I trusted, and even some youth minister/church brokering that didn’t turn out as planned.  I found myself becoming cynical and wanting to write letters and tweet complaints, because in today’s culture a letter of complaint gets thrown away but a tweet gets a response.  My wise and wonderful bride suggested that I go ahead and write them, and then to delete or destroy. Good advice.

Because when I see my words in print, I realize I failed the civility test.

So I apologize. I have asked and been forgiven for my pride and presumptuous attitude. I need to breathe–to write the letters and compose the tweets and then to stare at them and realize the lack of civility that my wording represents.I need to realize that something in print has no nuance–it is often a raw representation of a sinful human emotion.

I can still voice concerns. I can still cry “not fair” to my God and Comforter. I just need to realize that the referee is a husband or father or grandfather. The salesman is human with the dignity that God built into him.  The call center operator may have an accent, but she is trying to make a living just like I am. The customer care department at the airline is not trying to make my travel unreasonable and I have to consider that the voice on the other end could have drama going on at home or at best is towards the end of a really long day.

The real golden rule comes from various renderings of Matthew 7:12. Jesus is speaking when He says, “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets. May I add, “treat another persons’ husband, wife, daughter, mother, son the way you would want your own loved ones to be treated?

Pray for me. I am a work in progress.

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