What is life if there is no God?
No purpose. Busyness, striving, having fun, working, talking, eating, thrills. But in the end: death and dust. It doesn’t really matter if you live 20, 30 or 80 years. All the same end. Some have more fun than others. Some have a lot of pain. But the end is the same.
What is life if God exists?
To enjoy and live with Him. To glorify Him. In heaven. But also on earth. There is no difference in purpose, but in quality. In heaven, it will be perfect, but on earth it will be tough. Because we are sinners. Saved sinners, living in a fallen world.
What, then, is your purpose in life?
To glorify God in this life and the next. To enjoy God in this life and the next.
How do you enjoy Him?
By glorifying Him.
How do you glorify Him?
By living my life as a testimony to His greatness and goodness. By having a personal relationship with Him. By praying and thus showing that I am not in control, but completely dependent on Him. For every breath. For everything I have and need. For my future, my relationships, my struggle with/against sin.
What about your career? What should you do?
It doesn’t matter. What matters is that I glorify God, but more than that: what matters also is that I can encourage and challenge others to glorify Him, to help them to see and understand their own sinfulness and utter need for a Savior.
Are there certain vocations/careers that are more suitable for this?
To glorify God, we need to obey Him. Jesus commanded us to make disciples and to teach them (Mt 28:19-20). Teaching disciples happens in a Christian setting, while making disciples requires that we meet people where they are—in the workplace. Of course, glorifying God can happen in any environment.
Now, to make disciples, we can be faithful in our tasks and set a good example, and thereby glorify God. We can build relationships with coworkers and share the Good News with them and point them to Christ. While the bulk of our time will be spent building or servicing or driving or cooking or whatever, we can use opportunities during lunch hours and other breaks, and of course during times after work, to talk to people about Christ. I believe that it is in the “working world” where most of today’s outreach ministry takes place.
But what about discipleship? And what about the 8 hours every day that are focused on the work at hand? The time and effort spent helping people realize their need for Christ is still very limited. While ‘secular’ vocations are by no means less important or blessed by God, someone in full-time Christian ministry can be a bit more focused towards discipleship, and, in certain ways, also towards evangelism. They will, however, have to deal with other hurdles, for instance, building relationships with non-Christians.
So, which careers may be more suitable? That really depends on each person’s gifts and personality. For myself, I believe God wants me to invest the bulk of my time in full-time Christian ministry, making and teaching disciples.
Does it matter which ministry you could be involved in?
No. All people need the gospel. All people need to learn more and be challenged. Men, women, young and old.
So do you prefer a certain kind of ministry?
Jesus drew me to Himself during my teen years, I have been involved in ministry to young people (children and youth) for the past 25 years, have focused on youth ministry in both my Bible college and seminary studies, and I have a desire to teach and be a friend/mentor to young people.
Why young people, besides what you already mentioned?
Young minds are “moldable”, and I can make them think and act in ways that God wants them to. Rubbish! Try again. Young minds are moldable, but I cannot make them do anything, really. I cannot do anything to change anyone. Only God can do that. What I want to do is to help them see their own sinfulness, their own need for a Savior, and then point them to Christ, and to discover, together with them, Who Christ is.
This, of course, applies to any person, not just the unbelievers. When someone becomes a Christian, their need for a Savior does not stop. As people get to know themselves more, they also realize more and more how far they fall short in their attempts—and desires—to glorify God. And as they understand the depth of their—can I say—rottenness, they will all the more cry out for and seek their Savior. As our understanding of our unworthiness increases, so will our understanding of God’s grace in saving us.
Young people, especially teenagers, are going through a number of changes. They are trying to figure out who they are as individuals, apart from their parents. They are going through physical, emotional, and social changes. In addition, teens who grew up in a Christian home will begin wondering if they only believe because their parents do. I want to be there for them as they discover Christ for themselves.
So you don’t believe in programs, games, fun events, but only in Bible studies?
All activities, games and movie nights, but also service projects, missions trips or even Bible studies, are worthless in and of themselves.
You’ve got to be kidding me.
Let me explain. If students go home from church saying: “Wow, that was a blast! My friends were there, we rocked, the music was awesome, the games were the coolest ever, and also the Bible study helped me to become a better Christian”, the ministry has failed. Why is that? Because students should go home and say: “However fun the events were, and whatever I learned from the Bible that will help me be a better Christian, the best thing I really got out of it was: I saw Jesus. I understand, just a little itsy-bitsy tiny more how sinful I really am, and I have grasped a bit more how much Jesus loves me, and how holy and awesome and perfect He is, and I want to spend the rest of my life loving and living for Him.”
Explain a bit more, please.
If we do a Bible study, and students learn what the Bible says (so-called head knowledge), and even go home and apply it (so-called heart knowledge), that is not enough. They might live a better life. They might improve who they are. They might try the “3 steps to be more loving towards your parents or siblings”. They might help their neighbor, serve in a soup kitchen, or go on a missions trip to build a house or run a VBS.
Those are all great things. And I hope they will do these things. However, if that is where they stop, it is good for nothing. If they do not end up loving Jesus more, if they do not end up realizing more of their own sinfulness and need for Christ, it is not enough. If in the end Jesus is just the same to them, a friend Who is simply helping them to live a more fulfilled, and even a more moral and loving life, then Jesus is not Christ.
Jesus is the Christ. The Savior. And kids need a Savior. They don’t need a person who can just inspire them to become better people, or someone who can show them how to behave, be organized, and be nice. If, what we are teaching and trying to accomplish, could be accomplished by any good and moral Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, or even atheist, then we are not doing Christian ministry. Kids need to rely on Christ to transform them.
Aha, transformation. And how will that happen?
Through the Holy Spirit, Who works in us to form us into Christ’s image. This will be completed only when we get to heaven, but on earth we can already reflect His image in increasing measure.
To accomplish that, God uses His Spirit, His Word, His people, and even non-Christians and circumstances. We can resist the Spirit and fight against Him and try hard not to be changed into Christ’s image, but what kind of Christian would do that? And so, we give the Holy Spirit room to work in us, to change and transform us, using whatever means He deems necessary.
The important thing here is that the Spirit is doing the work, not I or the students. My job, as a youth leader, is to help students see their need for God, for His working in their lives, and then to challenge them to make room for the Spirit to work. My main purpose is not to tell students to read the Bible, pray, and become better people; rather, it is to tell them to let the Holy Spirit work in them, to tell them to look at their own spiritual need and sinfulness, and then to turn to Christ as their Savior, every day.
Of course, letting the Spirit do His work in them does indeed require certain actions, like Bible study, prayer, service, fellowship (not just “hanging out”, but accountability, caring and true community); however, it is important to know that those things are not the focus, Christ is!
Thank you for your answers.
Thank you for reading them