Straight Paths Made Crooked: Clarifying the faith journey for students

This morning I came across Hosea 14 and the last verse of that chapter stuck out to me:

 Let him who is wise understand these things; let him who is prudent know them. Straight are the paths of the LORD, in them the just walk, but sinners stumble in them.

I know I haven’t uncovered any mysterious truth, this is something many of us read and say, “Well duh Chris, it’s pretty obvious that because of our own pride, our own lust, greed, gluttony, etc. we stumble on God’s path.  But my question is why then do we make it so complicated for teenagers?  I know we don’t think that we do but if we aren’t careful, we can sometimes make a clear path seem intimidating, difficult, or even impossible.  So how do we keep the path straight?

  • Tell Them Where They Are Going:  We often work on vision for ourselves and our ministers, but do we ever share it with our teens and their parents?  If no, why not?  Isn’t are vision for the teenagers?  Aren’t we trying to raise up Godly youth, true disciples of Christ, people who love God and love others?  Then why aren’t we painting a picture of our vision?  In order to paint this picture we need to convey our vision in the lessons we teach, the activities we arrange, we can even write it out and put it on the walls.  Whatever you do, make it obvious and clear.
  • Tell Stories: Now don’t make anything up but story is going to drive them.  Jesus used parables all the time to motivate and move His disciples.  For us we have a life, we have stories, our ministers have life stories, the students have life stories, their peers have life stories, you get the point, but basically our faith journey can act as warning signs against sin, our faith journey can be a motivator to stay straight, we just need to tell it.
  • Reassure Them That They Are Headed In The Right Direction: When my family travels from Baltimore to NJ where my family lives we take back roads because lets face it the NJ Turnpike stinks.  But one of the things you’ll notice traveling back roads is how poorly marked turns and intersections are.  It doesn’t matter how great the GPS if you don’t see the next right turn, how are you going to make it.  For me it gets reassuring when I see a sign pointing out that I’m heading in the right direction.  We need to make sure we are encouraging our students whenever they make a choice to stay on God’s path.  We need to make sure they know that even though life is hard that they are doing the right thing.  So how do you share wins with your students?  Do you call them?  Do you write them a note? How do your students know from you that they are heading in the right direction?

I’m sure there are many things we can do for our students to help them keep along the straight and clear path.  God’s path isn’t meant to be complicated, yes we are going to be challenged, it’s not always going to be appealing and will be tempted to stray…but…His path is pretty clear we just need to make sure our students know where they are going, motivate them to stay straight on the path and continuously remind them that they are heading the right way.
How do you paint vision?
How do you motivate them?
How do you direct them?