If you’re a youth pastor or leader, how would your students respond if I asked them what the most important thing you want them to know is? There are so many important things you want to teach. So many things you want them to hear, to own, and to hang onto. But I want to suggest something to you. Just something for you to chew on. This is the single-most important thing I tell my students, and I hope every one of them knows that. It’s even more important than telling them:
- God loves you.
- Jesus died for you.
- You need a Savior.
- I love you.
- Love each other.
- Care for the poor.
- Share your faith.
- [insert your favorite thing here]
Now before you label me a heretic, consider this. There is one thing I say to my students all the time that is more important than literally anything else on that list of really important things, including whatever you wrote there.
Seriously though, it’s HUGE. Are you ready? The single-most important thing I tell my students ALL THE TIME (and you should too) is this:
Don’t just take my word for it.
It goes like this.
- God loves you…but don’t just take my word for it.
- Jesus died for you…but don’t just take my word for it.
- You need a Savior…but don’t just take my word for it.
- Drugs will mess up your world…but don’t just take my word for it.
- Your speech matters…but don’t just take my word for it.
- Sleeping around will leave you feeling empty and full of regret…but don’t just take my word for it.
- Your friends determine your future…but don’t just take my word for it.
It’s so crucial. I want them to hear me say that phrase so often that they’re sick of it. When I’m teaching my students, I usually say it like this:
“Guys, here’s the deal.I never want you to go home and just assume that what I told you is true. I never want you to take anything that I or anyone else teaches you at face value. I’m not perfect, and neither is anyone else who will ever teach you like this. Don’t just take my word for it. Open your Bible up and see what God has to say to you. Take HIS word for it.”
I want my students to trust me and to know that I will always teach with as much transparency and honesty as possible. I’m not interested in giving them my opinion. I’m only interested in giving them God’s truth. But I don’t want them to take my word for it.
So agree with me, disagree with me, write me an email about why you agree or disagree…but whatever you do, do this: just think about it. Are you not suggesting, not encouraging, but urging your students to go straight to the source? Point them there. Lead them there. But whatever it takes, get them there.
At the end of the day, it gives me relief. It gives me peace. It holds me accountable. I need that. You do too.