Ordinary to Extraordinary
Students believe that they are ordinary and often times don’t dream about doing anything extraordinary for God. They have forgotten how God takes ordinary people and does extraordinary things through them for his glory and his purpose.
Sometimes we read about famous Christians from the past and forget that they were ordinary people that God used in extraordinary ways. Throughout history God has raised up leaders to accomplish his purposes for the church and the world.
As a devout Jew, Saul of Tarsus wanted to bring “Christ followers” to justice. His success in rounding up Christians increased his reputation. He even traveled 135 miles from Jerusalem to Damascus to round up suspects. While on this trip, he had a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. The Lord changed his name from Saul to Paul. The name change mirrored the change in Paul’s life. Thereafter, the greatest enemy of Christianity became its greatest champion. He traveled the known world preaching the Gospel and establishing churches. His 13 letters to various churches became one-third of the New Testament. At the end of his life, the Gospel had spread throughout the western world.
Martin Luther was a German priest who was bothered by certain practices of the Catholic Church. He listed 95 theses or proposals on a sheet of paper and nailed it to a church door. The Pope declared his teachings to be heresy and ordered the burning of his books. The head of the Holy Roman Empire ordered Luther to appear before a court to explain and renounce his beliefs. Luther attended the trial but refused to deny his teachings. He was jailed but escaped and went into hiding. From these events the Protestant Reformation spread across Europe, influencing all future Christians.
Jonathan Edwards was a Congregational minister prior to the American Revolution. His “fire and brimstone” preaching style triggered the Great Awakening throughout New England. His sermon “Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God” stressed man’s unworthiness in God’s eyes. With great emotion, people sought God’s forgiveness for their sins. The evangelical movement traces its beginning to Jonathan Edwards.
A shoe salesman led Dwight L. Moody to Christ. He moved to Chicago in the late 1800s. He noticed many young boys wandering the streets causing trouble. Desiring for them to find Christ, Moody started a Sunday morning Bible class for them. His success increased the expansion of the Sunday School movement. He was a dynamic preacher who drew large crowds to hear his sermons at Moody Church. Later, wanting to train more missionaries, he founded a school called the Moody Bible Institute. His life and ministry have greatly influenced the church as we know it today.
Without fail, one generation must pass the leadership torch to the next generation. The Christian young people sitting in classrooms today will soon be the leaders of the church tomorrow. Who is the next Paul of Tarsus expanding the Gospel to the ends of the earth? Who is the next Martin Luther challenging some outdated practices of today’s church? Who is the next Jonathan Edwards triggering a revival that reenergizes the church? And who is the next Dwight L. Moody who launches organizations to meet some overlooked needs in the church?
Students will not dream about doing something great for God unless an adult in their life pushes them to dream, a leader who creates an environment where it is safe to dream about doing something great for God. If our students don’t believe that God can do something amazing through them, they will settle for the mundane and the ordinary.
I know it is not part of your resume to help students dream but being part of the big church, I believe it is one of the great things that we get to do with youth workers. If we help to develop a generation that dreams about what God will do through them, I believe it will give God an opportunity to do incredible things through this next generation.
God used every one of the imperfect people mentioned above and transformed them into mighty leaders fit for his service. Couldn’t God do the same thing through your students? Maybe God is at work in your life even now preparing you to impact the church in a fresh, exciting way. Remember that God uses the most unlikely people to turn things upside down. And it really could be your students!
About the Author
Doug Franklin is the president of LeaderTreks, an innovative leadership development organization focusing on students and youth workers. Doug and his wife, Angie, live in West Chicago, Illinois. They don’t have any kids, but they have 2 dogs that think they are children. Diesel and Penelope are Weimaraners who never leave their side. Doug grew up in… Read More