The challenges of the past year have taught me some lessons about doing collegiate ministry that I might otherwise never have learned.
For example, I have long thought that success is measured by how many students show up, but now I believe success is measured in the depth of students, not the number of students.
I also used to try doing ministry from behind a computer screen, but only when I was forced to do ministry virtually did I begin to realize how much we need to see each other and encourage one another together.
And I’ve had a bad habit of thinking I simply have too much work to do for me to be taking long stretches of time praying, but being forced to slow down is helping me realize that I can do nothing good apart from those times with God.
I’ve been moved in these areas by 1 Thessalonians 3:10
“Night and day we pray most earnestly that
we may see you face to face and supply
what is lacking from your faith.”
Incidentally, my own growth areas are also areas where college students need to grow and, I expect, where many of us need to grow.
Paul prayed day and night; we struggle to find time to pray. There’s a tendency to think of prayer as something to do when there’s some spare time or when there’s a great need. We see prayer as our last line of defense, when it is, in reality, the first line of offense against the enemy. Satan is totally cool with us watching TV, working overtime, and talking sports or politics, but he really hates it when we pray!
Paul longed to see the church face-to-face; we stay home Sunday morning if we’re tired. Many of us have noticed something missing in virtual worship, class, or groups, but we can also admit we took for granted being able to come together to praise and learn about God. Or worse yet, we begin to think that a life of faith just involves attending a worship service, but for the other 167 hours a week, we do not see the church, share life’s ups and downs, or seek to disciple and be discipled by other believers.
Paul wanted to “supply what was lacking” from their faith; we avoid speaking hard truths if possible. If we perceive that someone is lacking in their faith, our usual response is to tiptoe around the issue, supposing that such things are between them and God. Certainly we shouldn’t go around pointing out everyone’s shortcomings (that's a good way to lose friends and make enemies), but if you have prayed for someone diligently and spent time with them to grow relationally, then by all means you should love them enough to call them to deeper faith.
Do you feel there is room for growth in these areas of your life? What is your next step to grow in prayer, relationship, and speaking truth?