An Open Letter to My Former Students

Dear Student,

I want you to know I still pray for you. I think about you often and still love you deeply. My heart is heavy when I see your struggles on social media and I am overjoyed when I see your successes. I am privileged that I have not been cut out of your life and I want you to know I am grateful for that. I have watched you grow, and now I am watching you go. For some of you it is difficult to watch. I long to help you, to walk you through your intellectual struggles, to offer you counsel and books that may aid in your journey. For others I feel an overwhelming sense of pride and joy to watch you soar into maturity. For all of you, I pray.

I remember every step of your walk when you were in Youth Group. I remember the labor of trying to convince you that church was worth your time. I remember you ignoring me. I remember challenging your faith. I remember the joy of watching you grow. I remember that time you got angry at me for that same challenge and how you complained to everyone else about me because if it. I laugh about it now. In truth I laughed then too… knowing that it would turn out alright given time. I remember the times you got hurt, when I stayed up late praying that you’d be ok. I remember the deep sorrow I felt over your relationship, family, and heart issues. I remember you. I remember your walk. I don’t know you as well as I would like now, but I remember you. You’re not forgotten.

No church is ever perfect and, if we were wise, we made sure you knew that. We made ridiculous mistakes trying to do what was best for your growth and we are still making mistakes and growing from them.

I have a short exhortation for you:

Pursue the truth of Jesus Christ. Find community. Live a full life.

You’ve moved into spheres of the world that will encourage you to forget the truth. Do not blindly accept the wisdom of the professors and peers around you. Remember the difference between many of your professors and every other opinionated fool is how many words they wrote on a piece of paper. They’re people… just like everyone else, they are striving to figure out who they are and what they are here for. Challenge their assumptions as much as they challenge yours. There is one authority that has been tested and proved through time: God’s Word. Remember to test all things by Scripture. Of course, in order to test things by Scripture, you must know it! So read it, listen to it, and engage it. It is my hope that we taught you to deal with difficult texts as well as the favored stories. If we did this well, then you struggle to understand God. Remember, it is better to struggle than to be apathetic. God likes when you struggle with Him. It is what He named His people! (Israel means “Struggles with God”)

You were designed for community. Christianity is not a solo act. Find a group that thinks deeply and get involved! Dig in deeply to the lives of those around you and do it with a transparent attitude. Make sure people know you… I mean really know you. It might be uncomfortable; do it anyway. Pursue knowing Jesus alongside other people.

Finally, Live! Do things that are hard! Enjoy the things God has made. Follow the Word of God and engage the world around you with the mission of God. One of the greatest failings of the church is that we somehow communicated that you are not supposed to be alive. We inadvertently told you that you’re supposed to be bored and unhappy in this life. Sorry… it’s not true! You were created to enjoy life.  Happiness is yours for the having. Chase it!! Remember that you will only find it in and through a consistent and genuine relationship with Jesus. Live life within the construct of His love for you, and you will find tremendous joy!

Sincerely,

Your pastor

 

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