I know it can’t only be true for me, but there was a time where I would only read the Bible to “get a message” for my students or congregation.
Sad, I know, but I think it’s because of the way I viewed scripture that caused me to treat it in such a way .
I thought the Bible was a textbook for my job and, like a student, I had a test every week I had to prepare for. I thought I had to know all the answers and ace the test. I made the Bible about me knowing things for other people rather than enjoying the Bible for myself.
That’s the danger of study, preach, repeat; we see study/preaching as a job rather than an authentic way of living.
It’s possible to know a lot about the Bible and be as spiritually dry as a bone. How can we, as youth pastors, balance the reading and study of scripture for work and the devotional side of scripture which grows our own soul?
Plan Growth Into Your Schedule
Some people plan a study time, maybe 2 hours to work on a message. I know there are all kinds of ratios of how long is the message versus how much should I study, but that’s not me. Growth is a 24/7 endeavor for me, so sectioning off time tells me there’s a stopping point when I don’t believe there is one.
Just like when we pray, we say amen at the end but that doesn’t mean we won’t pray the rest of the day. I know we have to have some hard core time for study, I just don’t limit that time.
I plan study into my day in different ways.
Daily Study/Sharing Versus Message Prep
- When I go for a walk I listen to scripture through the YouVerion Bible App
- I do a FB live devotional on Facebook from 9-9:30 a.m. . I read, study, and pass it on which means it comes back to me through my own ears. Doing this daily means accountability and doing it live means I better be engaged with the Word I am reading.
- I post scriptures on my Instagram with a short devotional.
- I use websites like www.biblehub.cc when preparing so I can look up Greek/Hebrew words to get context and understanding.
I can’t say enough about learning and sharing on a daily basis. I love doing this because it keeps me from becoming a Wednesday and Sunday Pastor (or Christian). It shows my community that I am all about the daily living and not about preparing for a once a week meeting.
The secret of your success is determined by your daily agenda. – John C. Maxwell
Meditate and Reflect
Just like I build in study time, I build in meditation time, think time. I like to chill and listen to podcasts like Pray As You Go witch is like an audio Lectio Devino which asks me to think and pray and engage with God.
I don’t put pen to paper, as far as a message, until I have fully thought through the scripture and have
- asked “what is means
- asked “what it means for/to me?”
- ask, “because of these revelations, where do I need to take my students.
I meditate on your precepts and consider your ways. Psalm 119:15
Practice What It Says
We cannot divorce the preaching and the doing. When I am prepping my message, I try to figure out how to put myself in position to practice or obey what I’m learning.
If I’m talking about forgiveness, I have to find ways to be forgiving or reflect on if there’s anything to be forgiven of by God or others.
If I am talking about giving I have to look at my giving and ask God how this principle needs to be reflected in my life and how do I demonstrate this to my students.
In the practicing of scriptures, we won’t have to look up good illustrations for our messages, we can share from our personal experiences.
An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching. – Mahatma Gandhi
I judge no one but me. I know me and you know you. I would ask you to consider your current spiritual practices and if they contribute to, first, your daily growing, and secondly, to the growth of others.
Growing others without growing yourself is to water all the plants but one. Soon, that one plant will die and then who will water the other plants?
Grow your own soul and you’ll have no problem growing others.
I recommend these books
Soul School (Enrolling In A Soulful Lifestyle)
Nurturing The Soul Of The Youth Worker
Soul Food For Youth Workers
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