This Advent, Let’s Practice What We Preach



By Brad Hauge

My natural inclination in ministry is almost always to think of ways to help others engage in service, compassion, and ministry. When our church’s staff took the StrengthsQuest inventory earlier this year I rated high on almost all things strategic. I love to be efficient and logical and pragmatic—and anything else is a waste of time. (Kidding. Kind of.)

Unfortunately, I’m realizing that my natural focus on the strategic often leaves me in a place where I am not living out the very things I’m encouraging the students in our community to do. I confess that, outside of the 30 Hour Famine, I don’t regularly fast. I don’t regularly engage in conversation leading to increased awareness of unnecessary hunger around the world. I don’t often create space in my own life to mourn how many lives are lost to completely preventable causes; and then to be moved to action as a result of this sort of Spirit-led reflection.

Do I pray regularly? Yes.

However, if I’m honest the prayers that I pray both personally and lead corporately during the Famine are prayers that rarely reappear once the event is over.

Do I care about hunger related issues in our world? Yes, absolutely.

However, both my advocacy and activism toward this reality often takes a back seat to, well, many things for most of the year.

Do I believe that middle and high school students have the power to change the world? Yes, 100%.

However, they hear that from me far more often when leading up to, or in the middle of, a large-scale mission trip or event such as the 30 Hour Famine than they do on a day-to-day basis.

I’m a little ashamed to admit how often I allow myself to compartmentalize the priorities and passions on my personal faith around our ministry’s calendar of events. Not simply because it’s pretty lame to live from a place of passion with a sort of end-date, but also because it limits the authenticity in which I can lead our students. They know when I’m leading from a place of obligation or from a true stirring within my soul.

So let’s fast a little here and there and see how God uses that as we lead up to our Famine events. Let’s practice fighting hunger in our communities among our peers so that when we ask students to do it we can lead by example. Let’s set aside time to read, learn, pray, engage with the areas of the world funds will go toward helping, so that the information we present during the Famine isn’t simply read off a card provided by World Vision.

When it is time for your group’s 30 Hour Famine event, you’re going to want your group to engage with the strategic activities and content you provide them. In short, you’ll want them to practice what you preach. During this Advent season I’m going to commit to creating a rhythm where I do a better job of practicing what I preach, at least a little bit each day. So that when it comes time for the main event, I’ll be leading from a much healthier and authentic place where my passion and hope won’t simply feel strategic, but will be a result of what the Spirit is calling me toward.