Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. – Philippians 2:5-8
But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” – Matthew 20:25-28
One of the books I’ve been reading over the past few weeks is the newly released sequel to the Hunger Games series, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. One of the themes that’s emerged throughout is the thirst for power and control, and the dynamic between those who are in power and those who are not. Suzanne Collins’ series and the world she created do a great job of bringing these themes to light, and it got me thinking about our current situation.
While I don’t want to always combine the coronavirus and racial tensions together, I think this is another area where there is a lot of similarity, and I think they function as excellent foils to each other. As I look around and look at myself, I see people with power and control desiring to keep it, and people without power and control seeking to gain it. There have been people protesting stay-at-home orders because their freedoms (i.e. power and control to choose for themselves) are restricted, and there are people protesting racial injustice, the unjust use of power against them, and a lack of power and control to change that. I look around and I see groups of police using their power to maintain control (both appropriately and inappropriately), and I see political parties attempting to maintain control of an upcoming election.
As I consider myself and reflect inwardly, I also see my own desire to maintain control and to have the power to make decisions and to live how I want to. Our thirst for power and control can be seen in all of human history, and yet as we look to Christ’s example, we see a God with infinite power and control willingly humbling himself and becoming one of us. We see a King who didn’t rule as we might expect him to but who calls his disciples to lead as servants. We see a Savior who intentionally sought out those without power and control, to lift them up.
What does this have to do with youth ministry?
This blog is focused on encouraging excellence in youth ministry, and while this post may tap into the “uncomfortable” nature of that, I imagine some are wondering what this has to do with youth ministry. I know that because in recent weeks, I’ve seen people asking what our current events have to do with sports or board gaming, as statements addressing issues pop up in those forums. And here’s the rub – we can only minister effectively if we are aware and addressing the events in our culture. As we, and the students we serve, live in the midst of these events, they form us. And as we seek to grow as disciples of a God who entered the world, we have to consider how we might speak to and grow personally in light of them.
As we continue to move forward in seeking justice, health, economic recovery, and a new normal, may we consider how we can lay down our power and control to love and serve others.