This past week I have been thinking a lot about the goals I have for our student leadership team. Student Leadership is not a new idea, but many times in Student Ministry the leadership team simply consists of the popular kids who make the decisions about the fun activities the group will do.
So as I have been processing the direction of our leadership team I came to a realization. The realization is this… I talk about prayer a lot, we even pray as a part of our times together, however, I would say prayer has not been a priority for our leadership team. It has not been the focus. The focus has been on what WE NEED to do rather than on what we NEED HIM to do. This past week I tried to really begin engaging our leaders in prayer.
For me the problem was twofold. One, there is so much to be done at times it is easy to jump right in. After all in ministry the work never stops. Two, I wonder if from time to time I get so focused on all that has to be done, that I subconsciously suppress prayer because it is ultimately my job to get it done. So what about the words of Jesus in John 15?
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
The last part of this verse has really been making me think, how much ministry am I trying to do on my own? Am I teaching these students that ministry is all about them? Because Jesus says without Him it is going to fail and our work is useless. I am not saying stop working hard. In fact I believe the exact opposite is true. We must work as if it depends on us and pray like it depends on God.
I firmly believe making prayer a priority for student leaders begins with a mentor teaching them to pray, not through lessons but through actually praying. I want to hear all of our leaders pray. I want to give them specific things to pray for together in our group time and throughout the week alone. Mostly I want them to see me modeling prayer. Not simply rehearsed and antiquated words from our past, but a true passionate heart being poured out to God, a heart that truly believes, if God does not show up then our efforts will be wasted. We must be developing hearts that beg and plead to be a part of building God’s kingdom. Through the modeling that they might see prayer in a different light, as if our very life and ministry depends on God, because it does.
There are lots I want our student leaders to learn in the time they are a part of our ministry, but above all else I want them to see the essence of prayer in the life of a leader. To boldly ask God to do the impossible through their life and ministry because I believe teenagers will not truly understand the work and power of the Spirit until they see the Spirit at work in their life. As pastors, ministers, leaders, and shepherds may we never take lightly our commitment to prayer. It should be the bedrock on which our leadership is built.