There’s a saying I came across years ago and I’ve always remembered it. It’s a quote by a famous Indian diplomat named Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit and it goes like this:
The more we sweat in peace, the less we bleed in war
As Christians, we don’t often speak in terms of war and military actions. This despite the fact that at several points in the Bible, it becomes very clear that there is indeed a war going on. It’s an invisible war waged between forces and powers we can’t see for the most parts, but we do feel and experience the effects.
The great news is that the final outcome of this battle, this spiritual warfare, has already been decided. Jesus defeated the great accuser, the father of lies, the angel of darkness when He died and rose again. Satan will get his final comeuppance at the end of times and it won’t be pretty.
But in the meantime, this spiritual battle is causing big problems for us in our ministries and our lives. It manifests itself in conflicts, setbacks, attacks, discouragement, etc. It can make us angry, confused, deeply sad and at times so frustrated we just want to walk away from it all and quit.
It makes me wonder: have we realized the deep truth that lies in this saying? The more we sweat in peace, the less we bleed in war. The better we prepare ourselves for the battle, the more we know what to expect and look out for, the less the chance of sustaining injuries or having to give up the fight.
When we prepare ourselves or others for youth ministry, we so often focus on the practical aspects. This is how you need to manage your time. This is how you can connect with students. This is how to run a small group. But how often do we spend time on preparing them for the battle that lies ahead in youth ministry?
Because it is a battle. Anyone who has been involved in youth ministry for more than say two years knows this. It’s a battle against many things and a big part of it is spiritual. It’s a battle against temptations, discouragement, false priorities and whatnot. It’s a battle we’re so ill prepared for, which is why so many pastors, youth pastors and youth leaders walk away from it all.
The more we sweat in peace, the less we bleed in war.
The better we prepare ourselves and others for the spiritual warfare that is youth ministry, the better we’ll be able to deal with whatever comes our way. What could this sweating, this preparation look like? Here are some of my thoughts:
- Awareness of the fight, what spiritual warfare looks like
- Awareness of the end result
- Knowledge of the weapons available to us, both spiritual (Eph. 6 comes to mind) and practical (for instance accountability, coaching, pastoral guidance for ourselves)
- Discernment in knowing when we’re being attacked
- Knowledge of the power of prayer
- Insight into our weak areas so we know where to expect an attack
Now don’t get me wrong: I’m not a member of the there’s-a-demon-behind-every-tree club, absolutely not. But it would be foolish to pretend there’s no battle, that everything is peachy.
We need to acknowledge this battle and prepare well for it, while at the same time seeing it in the right perspective: the devil has been defeated and Jesus is the victor. But until that final victory is there for us to experience, we need to sweat more in peace, so we bleed less in war.
How are you experiencing spiritual warfare in your youth ministry? How well prepared are you and were you for this? What would you advice as preparations?
(photo: Rotorhead via Stock.xchng)