There is a danger in operating a vehicle with unchanged oil and filter. The oil filter is a paper/fabric cylindrical apparatus that prevents small foreign particles from circulating in the oil. This is of significance to any vehicle, because it increases the oil’s life span.
When changing a vehicle’s oil, a simultaneous filter change is also recommended. This practice is essential, as it prevents the recircluation of old dirt with the new oil.
Vehicles drive across various terrains, and they start, stop, idle often, and function in rain, snow, dust, and mud, among other conditions. Thus, over time, engine oil tends to grow sluggish with the accrual of waste (dirt), and breakdown due to high heat. This can further cause the oil to weaken, become diluted, and burned out.
Much like vehicles, youth leaders need ongoing ‘oil maintenance.’ In reality, daily maintenance is essential for effective leadership. This maintenance will address the residues of service, the ‘waste,’ the issues, and the challenges that can create sluggish physical, emotional, and spiritual outcomes, and engender a diluted, burned-out ministry.
Of note is the reality that a vehicle cannot change its own oil; it requires a specialist to address this function. Jesus is the youth leader’s Specialist. His desire is to remove any accumulated ‘dirt’ in us and fill us with His Holy Spirit. He is ever ready to respond to the cry, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me”—Psalm 51:10, KJV.
Unlike a car’s oil change, which can occur without fully removing the dirt particles when the filter is not changed simultaneously, Jesus desires to baptize us with His sweet Holy Spirit, and bless us with complete cleansing. We can’t afford to want an infilling of the Holy Spirit and yet hold on to yesterday’s dirt—baggage that has accumulated over time.
Such cleansing is a daily experience, moment by moment, allowing God to wash our lives of unchristlike attitudes, thoughts, and words. Here, God is willing to supply the total change that we all need. He is a God of completion. “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ”—Philippians 1:6, KJV. He wants to perform a total overhaul in us. He doesn’t merely desire to manifest His power through us, but, rather, to dwell within us.
As we allow God to lubricate our lives with the oil of the Holy Spirit, He calls youth leaders to exhibit Holy Spirit-anointed viscosity in ministry to God’s youth and young adults. Such a quality will empower us to flow out to all whom we serve, while modeling and coaching for unity and cohesiveness.
May God’s youth ministry “vehicle” continue to thrive under the anointing oil of His sweet Holy Spirit, discipling many for His kingdom.
David McKenzie is the director for Youth, Young Adult, Pathfinder, and Adventurer ministries in the Atlantic Union Conference.
This article first appeared in the April 2019 issue of The Atlantic Union Gleaner magazine, page 8.