Ask & Receive
group magazine: November-December, 2005
Q. Iím a new youth pastor who occasionally enjoys a drink. Do you think youth workers should completely abstain from alcohol?
Youth workers (and everyone) should remain completely and utterly faithful to who God has called them to be. Youth always know a fake...I personally enjoy a glass of wine with meals and have occasions when I drink. Iím upfront with everyone, from hiring committees to the youth, about who I am. I assure everyone I will never drink around a youth...I explain all my beliefs based on Godís Word. I know the Scriptures and how they spoke to me. My prayer is that I can show an example of being in the world but not of it. If itís people telling you to abstainóuse prayer, Godís Word, and discernment to ask God what he wants for your life. Hold fast to what you believe. I think if God tells you itís right for you to abstain from alcohol, you should honor that.
First, know your church and denominational policy on beverage alcohol, along with any personnel policies you may have signed! If those arenít an issue, then common sense should be your guide. A social drink with friends, wine with dinner, responsible adult behavior, shouldnít be a problem. If youíre at all unsure about how youíd handle questions from your youth about drinking or youíre unable to explain clearly why itís okay for you and not for them, then donít do it. Causing one of our young ones to stumble isnít worth an occasional drink.
If I had a glass of wine or beer at a restaurant, and one of the students Iíve been working to build a relationship with sees me, it could hurt the relationship in a number of ways. A teen whoís from an alcoholic family could quickly write off anything I might say to them, since they wouldnít see anything different in me than in their family. One of the ďin the church since birthĒ students could see this as a reason that I am not ďworthyĒ to share Godís love with them. And a student who struggles himself with alcoholism could see this as a way of saying that his drinking is okay too. Basically, thereís no real benefit to my having a drink now and then beyond my own enjoyment, but too many possible downsides.
By abstaining from alcohol completely, Iím able to lead my students by example. They canít tell me that itís ďimpossible not to drinkĒ because I am proof that it is possible.
In the early years of my youth ministry, I used to try and justify my positions with clear biblical arguments. I assumed that if there were no clear biblical mandates against something, it was my right to choose my preference. But upon a closer look at Scripture, I changed my approach. Now I ask, ďIs it wise?Ē Too often we get stuck on right or wrong as opposed to wise or unwise. So looking at the potential ramifications of the occasional drinkóis it wise?
Greensboro, North Carolina
What Would You Do?
I have two girls in the youth group who cannot get along. Iíve asked the parents for their help, but each side believes their child and blames the other. This is affecting the whole group. What should I do?
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