Keys To Developing Successful Young People pastor bajo akisanya
lot of things are currently being said about the young people of today and not all of them are positive. Two words that are not necessarily mentioned together are ‘youth’ and ‘success’. For those of us who lead young people, this is a major issue, especially at the beginning of the year when our focus tends to rest on resolutions, plans, targets, reviews and achievement. Two questions must be answered by those of us who are privileged to work with young people; first what would constitute success for us as youth ministers and what could we call a successful young person? A variety of arguments could be put forward, some more valid than others, but all would have the passion and intensity that seem to characterise people who serve in this capacity. This, coupled with the myriad of areas that youth work now focuses on, would make for a lengthy but inconclusive debate, however fulfilling the exercise may be. To avoid this, the Bible is the best source for an answer to both of these questions, for here we find on many occasions the dual concept of a successful young person. We will look at a few examples: Joshua The man who took over the mantle of leadership of Israel referred to 36
in Exodus 33:11 as a young man; he was mentored by Moses and had Moses’ vision for the people of Israel, so when he took over from Moses there was a difference in method but a continuation of purpose. Joseph The person who became the Prime Minister of Egypt at 30 years old was referred to as a prosperous man while he was just about twenty years old. He was mentored by Jacob cum Israel, his father, for we see a reproduction of the skill of Jacob in the life of Joseph i.e. managing other people’s goods (Genesis 30:27 -30, Genesis 39:1-5). In addition he had a clear picture of God’s purpose for his life as shown to him in his dreams (Genesis 37:1 - 11). Samuel Sent to serve in the temple after the miraculous events that surrounded his birth (1 Samuel 1-2), he was mentored by Eli and had the famous testimony that “Samuel grew; the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground” (1 Samuel 3:19 AMP) while he was still a child and a young person. David The warrior King of Israel mentored by Samuel (1 Samuel 19:18) and said to have cared for the things of God like no other. He was described by God as “a man after his own heart” prior to his anointing as king and while he was still a shepherd boy (1
Samuel 13:14 & 16:7-13). Saul The person through whom the Holy Spirit wrote two thirds of the New Testament was mentored by Barnabas (Acts 7:58,8:1,9:26-27) and had a clear vision of what the Lord wanted the church to become (Ephesians 3:1-11). Jesus Christ Mentored by Joseph, the husband of Mary. We see in Christ the same Kingdom-minded nature shown by Joseph when he was told to marry Mary; this he did at the expense of his reputation (Matthew 1:18-25). Looking at these examples we realise that two things stand out as essential for today’s youth minister to have and to cultivate in those around him/her: a strong process of mentoring and a clear cut Kingdom-focused vision. For us these become the yardsticks for measuring success in our lives as youth ministers and in the lives of those we serve. The processes have been broken down below.
When we speak of vision, this is distinct from human ambition, for, as the Bible clearly explains, ‘vision’ is God’s picture of tomorrow and not ours (Proverbs 29:18 AMP). Developing a clear vision is no mystery and the channels or paths for discovering and