A few posts ago I mentioned Mark 9 is a wonderful place to learn about how Jesus discipled his young followers. The post that followed highlighted the argument between the disciples about who was the greatest (Mark 9:30-37). The disciples’ enthusiasm was misplaced and they needed Jesus’ patience in order to make this a teachable moment about God’s view of greatness. The very next story in Mark 9 is the story of the disciples reprimanding a guy for casting out demons. Can you imagine how much boldness John must have had to confront a guy who was casting out demons and tell him to stop? John was bold. He was willing to have the tough conversation. It was, however, the wrong move. He shouldn’t have done it.
John didn’t know how to handle the situation but that didn’t stop him from trying. But Jesus did know how the handle the situation and John needed Jesus to share with him some of his wisdom. The same is true of our young people today. Our young people are bold. They want to make a difference but they don’t always know how. They need someone older and wiser to work with them and channel their boldness and zeal into healthy directions. Part of that wisdom that our older, more mature Christians need to exhibit toward their younger brothers and sisters is wisdom in how to take some of the messes and mess ups they are going to make and turn them into something good.
It is easy to look at someone’s mistakes as a threat to the church or to the kingdom of God. We want to quickly put a stop to people who are goofing things up. But often mistakes are exactly what God needs in order to teach people something. Remember what Paul said about his weaknesses?
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Cor 12:9-10
When you are 20 years old you may think you are a whole lot smarter than many of the people older than yourself. When you are a young person it is easy to let your enthusiasm get the best of your better judgment…if you even mature enough to possess “better judgment” yet. How will they learn unless someone walks alongside them and teaches them something better? It is what Jesus did and it is what we will need in our churches if our young men will grow up to be mature Christians.
If we are looking for mistake free young people then we are looking for better disciples than Jesus picked. If we are willing to love them, be patient with them and share our wisdom with them we can expect God to even take their mistakes and turn them into something wonderful.