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Why God’s promises can cover a multitude of our sins in teaching

God’s Word never returns empty.

It’s a great promise and an encouragement for youth leaders who are trying to reach students with God’s words. But it’s also one of those promises that can cover a multitude of sins. Our sins in bad, lazy teaching for instance. Our sins in not building deep and true relationships with the students we minister to. Or our sins in failing to apply what we teach in our own lives.

1. Lazy teaching

When your teaching is boring, when you keep rehashing the same topics and passages, when you don’t show the relevance of the Bible to your students’ every day life, when you only preach the rules and not the relationship, when you do not show them the big picture, you need to change your teaching. Lazy teaching will not get results, unless God decides to bless you nevertheless.

Teaching students is hard work. It requires creativity and perseverance and skills. You don’t need to get it right the first time, but you do need to keep trying and growing.  Take a course, buy good materials if you have a hard time coming up with good stuff yourself, practice, ask others for feedback.

Then trust in God to do the rest.


2. No relationships

Back in the days students would listen to youth leaders just because they were leaders. That doesn’t work anymore. If you want your students to listen to you, you’ll have to get them to like you and respect you first. Without a solid, open en honest relationship with them, they won’t accept your message, no matter how beautifully crafted.

So build the relationships first. Spend more time ob hanging out with your students than on crafting your message. Get to know them so you know what’s going on in their lives.

Then trust in God to do the rest.

3. No application

You have got to practice what you preach. If you do not apply the truths you teach to your own life, your words will have no power at all. Sure, you can pretend for a while, but sooner or later the truth will come out. Your spiritual health is the foundation for effective teaching.

We did a training course once for student leaders on leadership. One of the mentors completely lost it in a meeting, I mean he really was yelling and screaming in anger. Can you imagine that afterwards, his mentee never took his words seriously anymore? He’d lost all credibility.

You don’t have to be perfect, you are allowed to make mistakes, but you do need to be honest about them.

Then trust in God to do the rest.

Let me be absolutely clear: I believe the promise that God’s Word will never return empty is true, as are all God’s promises. I also believe it applies to us as youth leaders and that we should hold on to it when we get discouraged. However, I also believe that before we do that, we need to take a hard, critical look at ourselves to see if our lack of ‘results’ may have anything to do with us.

Then we can trust in God to do the rest.

One last thought: I’m not saying we have to be perfect in order to receive God’s blessing. God is merciful and His grace is unbelievable. We had a speaker once at a youth service who had a complete black out. His message was a mess: he had no structure, his key message wasn’t clear, he kept losing track of what he was going to say, you name it. It was by any standards a lousy talk. Yet afterwards we had two students coming up to say they’d been so touched by what he had said that they wanted to be prayed for.  God indeed works in mysterious ways. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do our very best.

And then and only then should we trust God to do the rest.

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2 thoughts on “Why God’s promises can cover a multitude of our sins in teaching

  1. True all the way and touching…

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