I was only 19 years old but it felt as if my life as I knew it had come to an end. I held my cell phone in my hand while my stomach sunk like an anchor in the middle of an ocean. My mom explained on the other side of the phone that my uncle Gene was abruptly passing away. As I listened, I can recall that a dark cloud of confusion began to loom over me. See, my Uncle along with my Aunt pastored the church that I grew up in. He was much more than a close relative– he was a spiritual pillar in my life. My reality was being shaken under my feet, to say the least.
It was out of this emotional and spiritual confusion that I decided to surrender my life completely to Jesus, and allow Him to have His way in my body, soul, and spirit. Often out of tragedy comes trajectory. I had no idea about where God would lead me, but a year later I began volunteering in our church’s youth ministry. It was in a room full of energetic 7th-grade guys that the Father began to release a heart for this generation. I began to find myself consumed by the desire to see this generation encounter the life-changing presence of the Holy Spirit just as I had. I began to desire to have a generational impact.
In my 8 years of working with students and pursuing this, I’ve been able to identify the most effective way to impact this upcoming generation. This has been learned through the Scriptures, my personal experience, many conversations with students, and many conversations with others wiser than myself. It isn’t new… it isn’t flashy… it certainly isn’t easy, but it works. It’s simply through authenticity and pouring out your entire life before Jesus. Allow me to explain.
In Luke 7:36, Jesus is invited by Simon (a Jewish religious leader) to have dinner in his home, and this is what happens next,
“37 In the neighborhood there was an immoral woman of the streets, known to all to be a prostitute. When she heard about Jesus being in Simon’s house, she took an exquisite flask made from alabaster, filled it with the most expensive perfume, went right into the home of the Jewish religious leader, and knelt at the feet of Jesus in front of all the guests. 38 Broken and weeping, she covered his feet with the tears that fell from her face. She kept crying and drying his feet with her long hair. Over and over she kissed Jesus’ feet. Then she opened her flask and anointed his feet with her costly perfume as an act of worship (Luke 7:36-38 TPT).”
Simon, a man of great social status, invites Jesus into his home for a dinner celebration. This celebration is then interrupted by a woman who was known in her town as a prostitute. This woman took what the Bible calls, “an exquisite alabaster flask” and filled it with expensive perfume. This precious perfume was worth an entire year’s salary. Then she went right into Simon’s home, marched over to Jesus, knelt down at His feet and poured out her tears and perfume on them. She was so undone by Jesus’ goodness and love that as she wept on His feet, she dried them with the very hair of her head.
Those that were present didn’t understand what was happening. “Why did Jesus allow this woman to do this?” They wondered. “What a way to waste such expensive perfume!” they thought to themselves. Interestingly, in the parallel text of this story, Jesus says this about this woman,
13 I promise you that as this wonderful gospel spreads all over the world, the story of her lavish devotion to me will also be mentioned in memory of her (Matt. 26:13 TPT).”
What is Jesus implying? He is implying that lasting Kingdom impact is connected to our “pour”. It is connected to our willingness to sit at Jesus’ feet and pour out all that we are and all that we have before Him no matter the cost. This woman didn’t allow her critical environment to dictate the intensity of her devotion to Jesus. Instead, she allowed herself to be influenced by who Jesus was, and what He had already done in her life (see John 12:1-8).
If we are to impact this generation it will only come through our full surrender to living a life marked by the presence of Jesus. It’ll only come through our lavish devotion to Him. Let us not mirror Simon the religious leader who was content with simply having Jesus around. Simon was content with being associated with Jesus, but he wasn’t willing to live a poured out life before Jesus.
I believe that in order to impact this generation, the time for being ok with simply having Jesus around has come to an end. They are not impressed. They are not moved. They are able to see right through the religious facades that are painted, meant to give off the appearance of commitment to Jesus. They need to see more leaders and kingdom influencers with a vibrant and unapologetic pursuit of Jesus’ presence. This is what will impact an entire generation. I am a product of this reality. I was fortunate enough to see this modeled in my own life. My Uncle Gene, whom I mentioned earlier, along with many of my close family members (Dad, mom, grandma, etc.), modeled what it looked like to live a poured out life before Jesus. It wasn’t their words, but their actions that marked me. See, this is the goal of my life. That I’d be known not as a person who got it all right, but as one who was willing to pour out his entire life before Jesus.
My encouragement to those who are in a position of influence (parents, pastors, educators, youth workers, coaches, etc.) in the lives of this upcoming generation is to allow them to see your authentic love, thankfulness, worship, and pursuit of Jesus. Invite them into your relationship with Him. We see this in our story in Luke 7, don’t we? What many would’ve considered intimate, embarrassing, or even undignified, this woman considered an opportunity to honor her Lord publically, and indirectly modeled for everyone present what it looked like to pour out devotion to Jesus. As we humbly devote ourselves to Him, I believe that we will leave a mark on this upcoming generation that will continue for many more generations to come.