First Things First: Being Precedes Doing

Youth Specialties
June 6th, 2016

It is easier to follow a leader who acknowledges he/she is following God.

—John Maxwell

What’s the most important quality of a youth worker? Is it talent, charisma, programming genius, and great hair and boots? These are all great characteristics of good youth worker—especially the great hair and boots.

Youth workers are busy people. They define themselves by what they’re doing. Many youth workers think, The busier I am, the more valued I am. Many youth workers also think their ministry determines their relationship with God. They adopt the idea that the more they do, the more God will love them. But what happens when they’re not performing up to the expectations of those around them? Will their value decrease?

The Bible shows us this isn’t true. The greatest commandment exhorts us to love the Lord our God with all out heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30). The Bible focuses on who we are in Christ, and we as Christians are to express our new identity in Christ through what we do. Being and doing go together, and what we do should flow out of who we are in Christ.

Let’s take a look at the phrase “Being precedes doing.”

What Is Being?

The dictionary gives us these definitions for the noun being:

1) the fact of existing; existence

2) conscious, mortal existence; life: being

3) the essence of a person; the soul; the inner being.

[bctt tweet=”Being is our authenticity and intimacy with Jesus.” username=”ys_scoop”]

It’s our love for him and our desire to spend time with him. It’s what drives what we think, what we do, and why we do it. It’s who we are on the inside.

Jesus tells us to abide in him:

I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.

—John 15:4-5 NASB

The word abide means “to remain.”

We’re told, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:1 NIV). God has given us a love letter and an instruction book—it’s the Bible. We’re to read his Word and live it out in our daily walk with him.

In John 15:7-9, Jesus gives us instructions on how to abide in him. He tells us to remain in his word, in prayer, and in his love.

Abide in His Word

Do not let this book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you might be careful to do everything written in it, then you will be prosperous and successful. (Joshua 1:8 NIV)

Reading the Bible is a way Christians receive communication from God. It’s like checking email or Facebook. The Bible is where God allowed some of his thoughts to be written down for us to learn from him.

Abide in Prayer

Jesus demonstrated this pattern of seeking significant amounts of time to be alone with the Father:

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. (Mark 2:33 NIV)

In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, Paul wrote, “Pray without ceasing.” Prayer needs to be a way of life. As we go throughout our days, the thoughts of God are always before us. Every waking moment is to be lived in an awareness that God is with us and that he’s actively involved and engaged in our thoughts, plans, and actions.

In repentance and rest you will be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength. (Isaiah 30:15 NIV)

Abide in Love

If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. (John 15:10 ESV)

To abide in Jesus means to keep his commandments, and to keep his commandments means to love God with all our hearts and souls and minds and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:37–39).

Today’s culture is filled with stress. Youth workers cannot minister without regeneration in their own spiritual lives. It’s during times of prayer and Bible reading we gain the balance of being in Christ and doing for Christ.

What Is Doing?

The dictionary gives us these definitions of the verb doing:

  1. perform an action, the precise nature of which is often unspecified
  2. Synonyms: carry out, undertake, discharge, execute, perform, accomplish, achieve.

It’s very easy to get involved in doing youth ministry: programs, Bible studies, fundraising, big events, summer camps, retreats, parents meetings, small groups, and mentoring—just to name a few. We’re good at doing. The big question is who are we doing it for? Is it the students, the parents, or those who will advance our careers? Do we want the biggest programs, the best equipment, and the most emails? Are we doing it for bragging rights?

I’m here to challenge you to have a ministry that flows from your relationship with God.

[bctt tweet=”In ministry, doing demonstrates who you know and in whom you have your being.” username=”ys_scoop”]

We emphasize “doing”—getting things done and so making a difference in this world. But in God’s order “being” precedes “doing.” “Being” effects [sic] how and why we do as well as what we do.

—A.W. Tozer Devotional, “‘Being’ Determines ‘Doing.’”

barb higginsBarb Higgins draws from more than 45 years of experience in teen ministry with a Master’s Degree in secondary education. After retiring from thirty four years of teaching in Rockford Public Schools, Barb began a second career in THE SALVATION ARMY as the Territorial Director of Youth Ministries for the Central Territory. This ministry has allowed her to work with students from the ages of 12-18, serving eleven of the central states by training leaders in the area of youth ministry and teen discipleship.

Youth Specialties

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