Lessons from the Servant
|At our Art Addicts Christmas party|
At the end of this month I am going to be presenting a workshop at the Canadian Youth Worker’s Convention on how to volunteer in a public school. You see, there is often this thought that youth pastors should volunteer in their local high school (which I would support) but no one is actually explaining to them how to do it well. The reality is that the public high school is not an easy place to serve. There are a lot of unspoken union rules you have to follow. You cannot talk about God or religion. The staff are skeptical of your reasons for being there and, quite frankly, so are the students. Is it even possible to be in a high school without sneaking in the back door? How do you justify to your church spending time in a place where you can’t share your faith? These are just a few of the challenges we have faced over the 10 years of school partnerships and I am looking forward to helping others learn from our successes and our mistakes.
One of the lessons I’m looking forward to passing on is found in the incarnation of Jesus who “did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” In the same way, we enter the schools as servants, seeking to meet the needs of others rather than our own. This means that in a public school, even though our faith is central to who we are, we choose not to speak about it. This is not done out of shame (everyone knows we are a faith-based organization), but out of a courageous, and perhaps outrageous, faith that God can accomplish much with very little. We enter the schools believing Jesus is present with us, and we choose to love and serve others in His name, but our witness is one of action not words.
If a student asks us about religion, we respond by saying something like this; “This is a great discussion, if you want to explore this further then we should ask your parents first and perhaps we could chat over a cup of coffee after school sometime.” That’s exactly what happened to me last week, his mom contacted me and gave me permission to chat with her son over coffee after school. We had a great conversation about faith, Jesus and religion. I got to hear about his faith journey and I got to share Jesus’ story with him.
So here’s the lesson and challenge I take from the incarnation of Jesus: Imagine giving up the more important thing in your ministry in order to see the most important thing accomplished!
- Derian Julihn