Overcomers

Overcomers

            You face challenges each day.  They vary greatly in magnitude, but each day you will face some kind of challenge.  Cultivate a leadership atmosphere in your life with the teens you lead at your church or home by seeing these challenges as opportunities.

On Saturday September 20th terrorists stormed Nairobi, Kenya’s Westgate Mall.  This attraction, popular with foreign residents, became a death trap.  Non-Muslims were commanded to stay while Muslims fled the danger zone.  Days later the hostage situation is over.  One hundred thirty-seven lay dead and dozens of others are wounded.  How should a leader respond?  How can we be overcomers in a world filled with evil?

I walked out of my office after I heard about the incident in Nairobi.  My wife, Jen, was teaching history to our younger two children.  They just happened to be discussing the Suez Canal and the ongoing conflicts happening in the Middle East.  Our 11 year old innocently asked, “Daddy, why are there conflicts there?” My response, “Two words- Jesus and Mohammed.”  I then explained my response and unpacked what had just happened in the Westgate Mall.  Our eight year old who is usually pretty gentle and mild mannered wrinkled up his face and said, “I hate Muslims!”  This provided a great opportunity to talk with him and his sister about being overcomers.  First I helped him understand how we shouldn’t be angry at a whole group of people just because a few of them did something evil.  Second, I explained how evil actions make us want to hate people, but hate isn’t the reaction that honors God.  In fact, God encourages us to do exactly the opposite.  Luke 6:27-28 says “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”  Romans 12:21 provides this encouragement, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

I sat down next to my son, put my arm around him and explained (in a way he could understand) how the image of God is carried in every person.  We can hate a person’s actions, but we must love the person no matter how difficult that step may be.  Hating anyone causes us to grow distant from God because we hate something He created.  I prayed with my son that God would help us both treat all people with love, especially our enemies.  My daily plan did not include cultivating an attitude of godly leadership in my kids, but I seized the teachable moment so they could understand God’s Word provides specific direction for people facing evil.

Consider your reaction toward evil.  You have faced evil in your home, at work, in your community, and especially through the media’s depiction of what is happening around the world.  How have you overcome evil in your heart?  How have you modeled an attitude for those around you that Christians overcome evil with good? What actions have you taken?  Are you an Overcomer when the unexpected ruins your day’s perfect plans?

Every youth worker’s and parent’s i-pod and phone should include the new release from Mandisa’s most recent album.  The album title and the song I’m recommending have the same name, Overcomer. When you face evil, remember Romans 12:21 and play this song.  When youth you serve face challenges and appear ready to break, read them Romans 12:21 and play them this song.  On your journey, you will face evil and hardship.  Be ready.  You’re an overcomer!