When Paul writes “make my joy complete”, he is not being selfish, or self-serving. In the first chapter of his letter, he tells us what brings him joy, which is the exaltation and proclamation of Christ. So then, Paul here desires the Philippians to make his joy complete by proclaiming and exalting Christ. He goes on in verses 2-5 to tell them how they can exalt Christ, which will have to be the subject of another post. Today, I want us to focus on Paul’s four-fold plea, in which Paul gives the Philippians five characteristics all believers in Christ will possess.
Characteristics of a Believer
Encouragement in Christ
The idea is to come alongside someone and give assistance by offering comfort, counsel, or exhortation. Meaning, as Christians, we are to find our hope, comfort, counsel, and exhortation from Christ and Christ alone. Where we look for comfort, counsel, exhortation, and hope changes from the world to Christ and His Word, when we become believers.
Comfort from Christ’s love
From Christ’s love we receive alleviation from sorrow, or grief. It is Christ’s love that comforts us and provides us with relief in a time of distress or sadness. This characteristic is tied closely to the following in that we as Christians find comfort and solace in Christ alone, not in the world.
Fellowship with the Holy Spirit
Here we learn that all Christians fellowship with the Holy Spirit. What does that mean? It means He is our seal and guarantor of eternal life (Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30; 2 Cor. 1:22). He is our spiritual source of power (Acts 1:8; Rom. 15:19). In addition, it means we possess spiritual gifts, which are given by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:4-11; Rom. 12:6-8). Furthermore,it means the Fruit of the Spirit as laid forth in Gal. 5:22-23 is evident in our lives. Lastly, it means the Spirit prays and intercedes for us, since we do not always know what to pray (Rom. 8:26)
Affection for others
When we become believers, our affections change. We should notice a deep longing for the welfare of others.
Sympathy for others
As believers, we should have compassion and mercy for others. We should have this compassion and mercy for others because we realize the magnitude of the compassion and mercy God poured out on us as sinful men, who deserve nothing but death.
To wrap up, If we are to call ourselves followers of Christ, like the Philippians, we should possess these characteristics in our lives. We should seek comfort and encouragement from Christ, looking to Him in times of distress and sorrow. We should also seek exhortation and counsel from Him and His Word over the world. Furthermore, we should notice a deep fellowship with the Spirit, which is evidenced by a birth of spiritual gifts and the manifestation of the fruits of the Spirit. Moreover, we should notice a change in our affections and sympathy towards others.
Here is the warning we can take from this verse, if we do not notice these characteristics in our lives, we need to examine ourselves and see if Christ has truly changed our heart, if He has really raised us from the dead and released us from the bondage of sin and the grip of Satan.
Council for Youth Mission
Most great characters of the Bible made the choice to serve the Lord, their Maker as a youth. Especially Apostle Paul of the New Testament who is been a source of encouragement to every child of God through his life testimony and epistles. Parallely, many lost their ministry because they were misled at their young age. Samson could be the right example to quote. To condense, young age ought to be dealt with utmost care, concern and importance.
Areas of leadership
It’s always good to know which areas of leadership are growth areas as far as being involved in youth ministry is concerned. Here are the five major characteristics of a great youth worker.
The God-Centered Heart
It probably doesn’t need to be said, but if you are going to be working with Christian teens you should be a Christian yourself. This doesn’t mean that you have to be the most knowledgeable Christian in the world, but you do need to have some understanding of your faith and you need to have a heart centered on God.
An effective youth worker will be able to demonstrate their own relationship with God as an example for teens. It is hard to teach someone something you do not do yourself. The philosophy “Do as I do, not as I say,” doesn’t go very far with teenagers. Devotions, daily prayer time, and daily Bible reading will help you grow in your relationship with God and provide support in working in youth leadership.
The Servant Heart
The servant's heart is also important. Youth ministry takes a lot of work. You will most likely need to be available to help set-up, clean-up, and attend events beyond regular services. Youth pastors often need a lot of help in planning and executing youth ministry events.
Without a servant’s heart, you are not setting a Christian example to your students. Being a servant is a huge part of being a Christian. Christ was a servant to man, and He called people to be servants to one another. It does not mean you have to be a slave to ministry, but you need to come ready to help out whenever possible.
Adolescence is hard, and Christian teens are no different. Just because they are Christians does not mean that they do not go through trials and tribulations like everyone else. A great youth worker is there for the students. He or she has big shoulders that can handle tears, laughter, introspection, and more. As a youth worker, you carry the weight of what is going on in your students’ lives.
Youth workers need to have empathy for the students they work with. Empathy is being able to put yourself in the student’s shoes. You also need to have good listening skills. It is not okay to just hear what a student is saying. You should listen actively and ask questions. A lot of what teens say is “between the lines.”
A great youth worker is available for students anytime. This does not mean sacrificing a personal life, as you need to set boundaries, but it does mean that if a student calls you in crisis at 2 a.m., it is par for the course. Teen angst does not just happen between the hours of 9 to 5.
A Sense of Responsibility and Authority
Being responsible is a huge part of being an effective youth worker. You are a leader, and responsibility comes with the territory. You are responsible for certain tasks, supervision, and being an example. You need to be authoritative enough to keep students in line. Just because a teen is a Christian does not mean they make the best decisions.
As a responsible and authoritative youth worker, you need to set boundaries that show there is a line between you being a student’s friend and leader. Certain acts require that you contact parents and pastors. Certain actions mean that you have to stand up to a teen to tell him or her she is doing wrong.
A Positive Attitude
There is nothing more damaging to youth ministry than a cranky leader. If you complain the entire time, your students will start to associate negative traits with the youth group and church as a whole. Even in the worst of times, you need to be able to put on a calm face. Keep your focus on the good in every situation. Yes, it is hard sometimes, but as a leader, you need to keep your students focused in the right direction.
There is a lot of responsibility when you become a youth leader. By learning to enhance the top 5 characteristics of a great youth leader, you can become an example to the students and other leaders. Your youth group will reap the rewards as your group grows. Take the time to find areas in which you can learn and grow as a leader.
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