4 Reasons Why You Need to be a Doctor

Bryan Barrineau
July 15th, 2021

The title is a little misleading. I am not saying you need to get a medical degree or a doctorate from a seminary. While I am currently earning my Doctor of Education degree at SWBTS, that’s not the kind of doctor I am talking about. As a student leader, you need to be a spiritual doctor, following the example of our “Great Physician.” 

If you work with students, you know that Generation Z is unlike any generation that has come before them. Tim Elmore’s book, Generation Z Unfiltered, describes each generation with a life paradigm statement that describes each generation in a short, pithy way. For instance, the paradigm statement for Boomers is, “You owe me” (please no boomer jokes). The life paradigm statement he uses for Gen Z is “I’m coping and hoping.” He makes the case that Gen Z has seen more social upheaval (i.e., wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, multiple economic downturns, racial and gender polarization, the rise of social media, etc.) and has witnessed adults misbehave in all of these areas. How do we, as spiritual leaders of students, approach a generation that approaches life with the attitude of “I’m hoping and coping.”

I want to provide this answer by going to the example we should all go to, Jesus. In Mark 2:13-16, Jesus has just called Matthew as his disciple, had a feast to celebrate at Matthew’s house, and been confronted by the Pharisees and Scribes about eating with tax collectors and sinners. Jesus responds simply, “It is not those who are well who need a doctor, but those who are sick. I didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17, CSB).

Jesus draws two dichotomies here: Well and sick, righteous and sinner. Jesus makes the inference that he is a physician that has come to heal some sickness, which is found in our spiritual conditions. Jesus understood that some thought they were righteous and had no need for a savior or salvation, but that others were sick physically and spiritually and needed healing. Jesus came as the “Great Physician” to care for and cure the souls of humanity. This is very true of the generation of students that we lead. This “hoping and coping” attitude points to Gen Z seeing the sickness in themselves and society. But also their need to be pointed to something greater that leads to healing; the saving grace of Jesus. Here are four ways you can do that as a leader. 

ONE: Students Need Compassionate Leadership

We are all broken, sinful people (Romans 3:23). However, that doesn’t absolve us from the responsibility we have to provide compassionate soul care to our students. This generation needs the hope found in Jesus to do more than just cope with the crazy society we live in. These students have seen numerous adults misbehave without compassion in their lives, both in person and on social media. Our leadership must be compassionate to push back against this meanness students see in adult culture. 

TWO: Students Need To Be Taught To Be Compassionate

Students need to learn how to love God and love others (the Greatest Commandment in Mark 12:28-34). We need to teach students to engage in soul care with their friends and family, seek to share the Gospel, and disciple their peers to Jesus. Students need to be taught how to love those who are different from them and disagree with them. Students need more than “hoping and coping;” they need a compassionate leader, following a compassionate Jesus, teaching them to compassionately care for others’ souls. 

THREE: Leaders Need To Engage In Soul Care

Soul care is how we engage with ourselves and others in seeing our sinfulness and turning to Jesus for forgiveness and healing. This paradigm isn’t just for how we interact with our students, parents, and leaders, but is true for our own hearts as well. To help care for other souls, we need to meet with Jesus daily for him to care for our souls as well.

FOUR: Leaders Need To Discern and Humbly Confront Spiritual Sickness

If we are to engage as spiritual doctors from the example of Jesus, then we need to learn to identify spiritual sickness and confront that sinfulness. This generation’s idea is “hoping and coping” leads to a desire in them that something better is coming and they must survive until it gets here. We need to compassionately teach that living in sin is not the best there is; they need to recognize and repent of their sin; and choose to follow Jesus, which is the forever hope they are looking for. 

Gen Z is looking for hope and coping until it gets here. Following the example of Jesus, let’s be compassionate spiritual doctors and engage in humble soul care for our students. Let’s be the leaders that lead them to the ultimate hope and into something better than just coping. Let’s be leaders who are different than many of the adults they see in society. Let’s be the presence of the compassionate Great Physician in the lives of our students. 

Bryan Barrineau

Bryan Barrineau is the Student Pastor at FBC Enterprise, AL. He has served in Enterprise, AL (the only town in the world who has a statue to an invasive species of bug) since 2013. He has been in student ministry for almost 20 years. He is married to Jennifer and they have two little boys, Henry and Caleb.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.