About a year ago, we posted this video and related it to how we view students in our ministry. We were just going to repost the article again today because it is one of our favorites, but as I watched the video again, I wanted to take it in a bit of a different direction.
I have a small photography business on the side, and I was recently sorting through and backing up some older photos. Going through them quickly, I could see growth and trends. When I got a new flash, my pictures featured the flash for a few months. I can tell when I started following certain photographers on Instagram because I see their influence in the pictures I took. I was bringing tips and techniques to the picture more than the preconceived definitions in the video, but even in my work, I could still see that the quote near the end of the video is true: "a photograph is shaped more by the person behind the camera than by what is in front of it."
If I think back, I can see how this has played out in student ministry as well. After a speaker had talked about storying, I took students through a 13-week overview of the Bible. I did a workshop on Jesus-centered youth ministry, and that changed how I did Sunday night groups. My latest influence was reading about planting trees for long-term growth that shifted my focus from numbers to development.
At first, I thought, wow, my focus and inspiration have been on me. How self-centered is that?! But then I started thinking this isn't such a bad thing. 1 Timothy 2:2 says, "You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others."
The things I have been taking in, that God has poured into me, are overflowing into students. The students, themselves, will be filled up with what I'm passing on, along with all the other input and influences God is putting in their lives. They will overflow in other ways, ways that are unique to each student, but still true to the gospel message.
When we look at the gospel, we can come away with as many different pictures of it as the photographers did of the man in the video. Unfortunately, some of those pictures and understandings are wrong, and that needs to be addressed. But on the other hand, it is an amazing thing that the Word of God is living and active. Even the gospel writers all put a different spin on it.
So whatever God is teaching you in this season, let the good news of Jesus into it. Let it transform how you view your life and then live the gospel out. However that looks in you right now. Your picture of how it looks might be different from the next guy's, but the message of Jesus is timeless. It isn't bound by time or culture. Live it out.
What an amazing video and great insights from it, Luke. How often we pigeonhole a person based on stereotypes or false information when we should really try to see the person - especially see them as God's creation.