Have you ever heard the question, “how do you eat an elephant?” The answer, “one bite at a time”, may seem obvious, but can be forgotten if our attention if riveted on the elephant.
This simple question and answer provides an approach to bring a large and complex challenge to completion. You identify small, simple things that make up the whole and you focus on them first. You do those small simple things well, then focus on the next small simple thing. By operating faithfully in this way, over time, the thing that was so daunting begins to shrink by focusing on the easy things right in front of us.
If I take this idea and apply it to our approach to youth ministry it allows me to set two primary goals:
- We must do all we can to convince any and all young people who come to our Bible Studies and activities that we love them.
- We must point these young people to God’s word and encourage them to study it for themselves, hopefully establishing a life-long habit.
While there are many other things that are important, I am convinced that if we can accomplish these two things we will have the greatest overall impact on the lives of our young people, for the glory of God.
Even more than this, I see this approach lining up well with Scripture. When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment is, He replied in Matthew 22:37, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” And in Matthew 22:39, the second greatest commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
While loving the Lord is the greatest commandment and should drive all we do, showing that love to other people, loving them as ourselves, gives us an incredibly stable platform from which the truth can be shared.
Jesus also tells us in John 14:15, “If you love Me, you will keep My commands.” And in John 13:34, “I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another.”
I think about it this way; if I share the gospel with someone, and my love for them is firmly established, then my motives are pure in their eyes. My witness is not about meeting a quota, or converting someone to my way of thinking. That’s manipulation, not love.
Even if they never agree with me or accept the truth, I believe that truth, shared and supported by the evidence of love, will be hard to discount. And this can only be accomplished if we truly love the Lord with all our hearts, and our neighbors as ourselves.