This week at my college group, we sang one of the songs from Passion 2016, which got me thinking of that incredible weekend in January.
We sang Salvation’s Tide is Rising, the title song from the album, and as we were singing, I remembered all of the amazing speakers that we got to listen to that weekend, and I promised myself that I would make some time this week to go back and re-watch some of the talks.
I was finally able to squeeze some time out, and I watched my favorite talk from the conference: Christine Caine.
Now, I had never heard of Christine before that weekend, so I honestly didn’t know what to expect, but if you have heard her speak before, you’ll know what I mean when I say that her sermon left me (and the rest of the arena) speechless. She had an incredible fire to her that just sucked you in and made you hang on every word she said.
I think I related to her more than most because of how she was called into ministry. She shared with us at Passion a story of how, while in a youth group herself, she planned to attend a day of service for the church… and she was the only one who showed up. During the course of that service night, she was asked to help out with the youth ministry at the church, and she agreed.
She went on to help establish Hills District Youth Service and later became the director of a huge youth ministry, Youth Alive.
Her story is remarkably similar to mine and how I stumbled into youth ministry. One night, my dad who is a youth leader at my hometown church, asked if I would help out on a weekend retreat that he wouldn’t be able to attend. You can read the full article about my beginnings in youth ministry, First Time’s The Charm, but long story short, I agreed to help and I am now almost a year into youth ministry.
Christine’s message was so convicting, yet so encouraging. I could honestly write a book on this one sermon, but I’ll try to boil it down. The points that stood out to me most were these: That we want to be big and famous teachers and leaders, but we don’t want to put in the work; That we need to stop living as victims, but living as victors; And that we need to cut away the sins and weights holding us back.
Anonymity and Obscurity
The first point was really interesting to listen to. Since I never saw myself in youth ministry, I never really thought of myself as a leader.
She spoke about Joshua and how God prepared him for his role as a leader by building his character in anonymity and obscurity. She contrasted that to our generation which is so self-centered, which I totally agree. My generation can be incredibly entitled sometimes.
We want to be the big time speaker at huge conferences, but we don’t want to put in the work. We want to be the world famous leader that does God’s will, yet we hand God a list of how we’re going to do it.
This was really good for me to hear, because I know that I can get prideful easily. I want to be a great leader, I mean, who doesn’t? But I want everything I do as a leader to be for His glory and to further His kingdom, not for some selfish, egotistical reason.
I want to surrender myself completely to God, so that He will mold me into the leader He wants me to be, not the leader I think I should be.
Delivered, but Not Free
Her second point was about the way many Christians act about our sinful nature. She used the illustration of us sitting in open prison cells. Jesus came, threw the cell doors open and broke our chains, yet we still act as if we are subject to sin. We are living “delivered, but not free.”
I can easily relate to that feeling of being “delivered, not free,” but it is my own doing. We are fully and completely redeemed in Christ, we are not slaves to sin anymore, and God has the power to free us from all of that. But we don’t step out of our cells and take it.
I’ve been battling some personal demons, and with the help of an amazing small group, I’m getting through them. I can’t help but feel though, looking back, that a lot of my problems getting through them was that I didn’t step out of my cell. I didn’t fully, 100% believe in or rely on the power of God. I was living as a victim and not trusting in the fact that Jesus already won victory over sin.
This part was so convicting. Christine told us about the concept of “circumcision of the heart,” how we need to “cut away” the sins and weights that are holding us down. The weights could be anything that was keeping us from a closer relationship to God, even if it was a good thing. “It may be a good thing, but not a God thing.“
God has already cut away a lot from me, but he’s nowhere near done with me yet. I can see Him transforming me everyday to be a better, more Christ-like leader for my students. I may not have it all together all the time (who does?), but I love the ways God is using me in this ministry.
If you want to learn more about Christine, you can go to her website www.christinecaine.com
This post is a part of my mini-series about Passion 2016. If you’d like to read more posts click here.