One of the many qualities our culture encourages young people to develop is strength. Physically, academically, and socially, teenagers are urged to try to come out on top. Those who seem too meek or gentle are viewed as pushovers and told to stand up for themselves.
Yet the Bible has a different message about strength—not only about how to show it but also where to find it. Psalm 73:26 (NIV) says, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Jesus spoke often about the blessings of gentleness and servanthood. In fact, Jesus himself “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45, NIV).
In our noisy, “me-first” world, meek people display peace, calmness, and caring. They don’t have an overinflated view of themselves but instead rely on God’s grace. In Live Large. Be Different. Shine Bright. (Simply Youth Ministry), Doug Fields and Joshua Griffin write that meek people are slow to speak, put other people first, and serve in small and large ways. Yet meekness shouldn’t be equated with weakness, they write. Instead, meek people accept their status before God and “realize that the beautiful, sensitive, humble quality of meekness comes from knowing that God has the power and love to make you his new creation.”
In The Jesus Survey (Baker Books), Mike Nappa discovered that young Christians find strength through core beliefs:
- 94% of Confident Christian Teens strongly agreed with this statement: “I’m 100% certain Jesus has answered one or more of my prayers—and I can prove it.”
- 6% of Confident Christian Teens strongly agreed with this statement: “I’m 100% certain that the Holy Spirit is present and active in my life today— and I have proof that this is true.”
In 99 Thoughts on Jesus-Centered Living (Simply Youth Ministry), Rick Lawrence offers strategies for living like—and for—Jesus:
- Practice congruence. A congruent life means that what you say is who you are, in every environment. It’s evident from your choices and priorities.
- Live “The Progression.” Following this will change your life: Get to know Jesus well, because the more you know him, the more you’ll love him, and the more you love him, the more you’ll want to follow him, and the more you follow him, the more you’ll become like him, and the more you become like him, the more you become yourself. ￼
- Realize that nothing is beneath prayer. God wants to be involved in every aspect of your life, so don’t think anything is too small for his concern and consultation.
- Offer ridiculous love for your enemies. Jesus said it’s basically a no-brainer to love the people who love you. The real evidence that you follow him is that you love people who don’t particularly love you.
- Practice extreme generosity. Give with no requirement that you receive anything in return.
- Armor up! Find strength from God by suiting up in his armor. God offers you protection against harm. Every day, simply ask Jesus to “dress you” before you leave your bedroom for the day.