Be John

When you’ve grown up in the church and been a “professional” in youth ministry for nearly 8 years, you hear a lot of cliched sayings.  “What Would Jesus Do?”…”Sinner and Saint”…”Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner”…”Personal Lord and Savior”…”God Has a Sense of Humor”…etc.

One of the sayings that has always made me squirm a little is when people say that youth ministers are called to “Be Jesus” to kids.  The point is for ministers to bring young people closer to Christ by emulating what Jesus embodied.  While I understand the intent, the idea that anyone can truly “Be Jesus” seems disingenuous to me.

All around the world this weekend, the thousands of churches who use the Revised Common Lectionary heard the story of Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist.  Many who listened to John believed him to be the Messiah.  However, he was clear about articulating different purpose.

John’s job was to point the way to Jesus.

I think that’s our job, too.

The task of being Jesus is too daunting for me.  Following Jesus is something I try to do daily; but something I fail at just as often.  Jesus was perfect; I am not.  I can’t be Jesus, but I can be John — “the voice of one crying out in the wilderness”.  Be John.

Perhaps, in doing so, we can bring people closer to Christ than if we’re trying to “be Jesus”.

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3 Responses to Be John

  1. Beth Lewis says:

    Thanks for this! The “be Jesus” phrase has always bothered me, too, but you have articulated that sense of our calling to “point the way to Jesus” so much better than I ever have!

  2. Erik says:

    Thanks for your kind words, Beth. I am humbled, to say the least.

  3. Ron Amundson says:

    Thats pretty cool… but you know if you mention being John, one of your youths is sure to bring you some type of a fear factor meal, and tell you to eat like John too. 🙂

    In all seriousness though, pointing to Jesus is a powerful responsibility, many blessings to you, and your fellow youth workers.

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