How Can I Be a Faith Role Model?
We hope many of you will be asking this question during the next several months. It’s the question driving this year’s 5:1 initiative. At Constance, we have a vision to see every 5th-12th grade student connecting with five adults who model active faith. According to Fuller Youth Institute’s Sticky Faith findings, teens who can identify at least five of these role models are considerably more likely to remain committed to their faith as young adults. In fact, intergenerational relationship was the leading “sticky factor” on FYI’s list of faith influencers.
So what does this look like for you? Every believing adult has the potential to be a faith role model for a young person. Being a role model does not require special training or expertise. It can be as easy as getting to know a preteen or teen through a shared activity, and engaging in simple conversations related to faith. A faith role model can be a young adult or older adult, married or single, parent or grandparent, or someone who’s never had children.
Are you an adult with faith to pass on to the next generation? Consider where you might fit in the 5:1 vision. Begin by making a list of the young people in your life (church, family, neighborhood, etc.), and ask a few simple questions. (Limit your list to young people of your same gender.)
Which of these students do you share the most natural connections with?
Who do you see the most often, and relate to the best?
With whom do you share a common interest?
How could you see yourself “doing life” alongside one or more of these kids?
Pray over your list, and ask God to lead you in making a decision. If you sense God’s prompting, take a first step. This might begin with a conversation with the young person’s parent. (You’ll want to keep parents involved as much as possible.) Come up with a couple of initial connections suited to this particular kid. Do they like to chat? Go out for ice cream or coffee. Do they prefer activity? Try bowling, or raking a neighbor’s yard. Is this a teen who is ready to go deeper? Suggest a Bible study, or reading a book.
Your initial connections will probably be focused on getting to know each other. Ask simple questions about hobbies and interests, school and friends. As your relationship deepens, you can engage in conversations about God and faith. Keep in mind, you do NOT need to be a spiritual expert. Leave room for questions, and exploring doubts. Share honestly about your own struggles and weaknesses, while modeling authentic trust in God.
A faith role model is someone whose own faith is real. Not perfect. Not exceptionally educated. Not even especially articulate or gregarious. But REAL. A role model exhibits character in a way that makes an impact. Finally, a faith role model points to Jesus. It’s not just about following the example of a good person. Ultimately, the real example is Jesus himself. The best role models are those who humbly give testimony to the good news of Scripture. It’s like Peter wrote in his letter the Church: In your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have (1 Peter 3:15).
We trust God to use our interactions with students to leave a lasting impression of what it means to be a genuine and devoted follower of Jesus Christ.