Growing is difficult, especially when it comes down to a collision between the old life and a relatively new faith. Let’s face it, even with a new faith and belief in Jesus, throwing off old habits and old lifestyle is extremely messy. The ramifications and consequences of the old self may carry on for a long time. I especially see this in campus ministry when students enter into a relationship with Jesus for the first time; breaking from the old self can be a daily battle. Our challenge as campus ministers is to carve out time to individually disciple students. Instead of being content to “bring them to Jesus”, it is a call to be transparent in our life’s struggles and experiences. It is literally walking with students through the messy areas of their life. It is helping them deal with consequences and being equipped to know how to handle serious issues or who to refer them to if it is beyond our abilities.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with a student and talk about marriage. He looks to me and my marriage as an example that he did not have growing up. It was a humbling and challenging conversation for me to know that I have the opportunity to be open and transparent about my life and the mistakes I have made along the way. As Christians, our tendency is to gloss over our own messy lives, but those are the very things the people who are young in the faith need to know. Discipleship, transparency, and honesty will do more to help people along in their spiritual walk than anything else we can do.