I love reading how-to books. They’re usually clear, straight-forward, and easy to apply. You can pick up a book on “Home Improvement for Dummies” and after reading a few pages, you’ve probably read enough to do something. Maybe not necessarily well or right, but you can go from reading to action relatively quickly.
There’s a definite attraction to the quick, get-it-done solutions in life. It’s the whole reason people pay for fast food regardless of the facts that say it’s usually pretty unhealthy; it may be bad for you, but it’s quicker than what’s good for you.
No Quick Fix
In youth ministry, it can be very tempting to think in terms of the short-term. We teach messages, lead small groups, have conversations, often hoping for immediate impact- and we should. We should always expect God to move on behalf of His Word.
But more often than not, the process of growth in a person’s life is a slow one. We may have moments of quick, punctuated growth, but overall, the journey of becoming more like Jesus is a lifelong process. As we interact with teens, it’s important not to let what happens in one year overshadow what could happen in five. When I consider the progress I’ve made in one year, I could walk away discouraged. But when I think of how far God has taken me over cumulative years of my life, I’m both amazed at His grace, and thankful for His continued involvement in my life.
What God Starts, He Finishes
So when we serve our teens, we may not see the impact that we’re making, because it may not show up immediately. But when we have a view for the long-term, for eternity, we can have the confidence that Paul mentions in Philippians 1:6, namely that the work God has begun in them and in us, He will complete!