By LIBBO CROSSWHITE
Spend more than 10 minutes with me, and you’ll learn how much I love working with and doing life with teenagers. Maybe it’s because in my heart of hearts, I feel like I still am one. My job as a high-school counselor, I believe, is God’s true calling on my life, rather than a simple career.
I’ve prayed a lot about how God would use this space this month. I realize there will be a lot of new faces picking up this edition to read about the 30 incredible Christian Leaders of the Future. This scholarship program, a mainstay in our area for over a decade, highlights something I truly believe: The future of the Christian faith is in capable, genuine, God-seeking hands.
Whether you’re a parent whose child was chosen as a Christian Leader, or whose child was not; or you yourself were chosen, and you wonder, “What if I can’t live up to this title?”; or you weren’t chosen, and you think, “I’ll never be enough”; I’ve been continually reminded that’s God’s grace covers all.
When someone asks me my favorite verse, my go-to is always in 1 Corinthians 15. Here Paul is preaching a powerful, gospel-filled sermon. He is pouring out eloquent, effective truth to the masses. He is the quintessential Christian leader in this moment, building a beautiful Christian résumé. He has every reason to be proud and filled with self-righteousness, yet after he shares the message of the God’s saving power, he reminds the crowd that he is the least of the apostles — that he, in fact, persecuted the church (undoubtedly not his finest moment, and something he probably would have left off his Christian Leaders application). But this next line, verse 10, is the kicker. It’s what God has for each of us this month and, quite honestly, eternity, for those who believe:
“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His GRACE to me was not without effect.”
If we are believers in the all-powerful God, and reliant on the core truth of Christ’s sacrifice and abundant, unmerited grace on the lives of those who believe, there has to be a visible effect on our lives. No, it won’t be perfect, not even close to it. It will be messy and difficult. But there will be evidence of our understanding of the gift of grace that each of us has been given as Christians.
The works and words of the Christian Leaders in this month’s edition essentially are the evidence of their faith, but will never be the epitome of their faith. This truth is what sustains us through the inevitable mistakes and missteps that will occur in each of our lives. It’s what makes us rely far less on ourselves and far more on the One who gives grace in our most painful and difficult circumstances.
Admittedly, this was the hardest truth for me to understand as a believer — that somehow God’s grace was truly enough. I am a list maker by nature, and oftentimes I wanted to “accomplish” Christianity rather than abide in it. Isn’t it just like us to complicate what God has clearly laid out?
God calls us to a posture of grace, found in Paul’s words (in 2 Corinthians 12:9) that His grace is sufficient for each of us. It’s sufficient for my motherhood, and for my children, both biological and those I counsel at school. And it is God’s grace that is offered to each and every person reading this column. Grace is abundant when we look to the Giver of grace, when we acknowledge our own weaknesses and sinful shortcomings. May we seek God in our heart to speak grace, live in grace, and see His radiant grace in each of our lives.
I can’t let this space pass by without a shameless plug for you to find a way to connect with teenagers, whether through small groups at your church or school, or ministries like Young Life, or just by walking into your living room.
Teenagers desperately need to see the love of Jesus both lived out and spoken in their lives, and you’ll be better for it, too. And if you’ve got younger kids like I do, your highschool “friends” will be the only thing that makes you seem remotely cool to your own children.
Libbo Haskins Crosswhite and her husband, Clay, live in Madison and attend Pinelake. They have one daughter, Mary Thomas, who is 7 years old, and a son, Russell, who is 5 years old. She is the high school guidance counselor at Madison-Ridgeland Academy and can be emailed at email@example.com.