Students of Students

Cody Ray Charland | Nov 16, 2010

Not too long ago, I gave a student a ride home in South Pasadena after Young Life club. My passenger typically has his headphones on all-the-time (at least one), so it was a surprise that we were actually having a conversation. He then asked if I wanted to listen to his music.

This is a point where most youth workers have been. Typically, you gear up by clenching your teeth and guarding your ears for just a few miles.

But my high school friend put in something that sounded like what they played at the “Enchantment Under the Sea” dance. It sounded like what Elvis had on his iPod. The music was so slow that we had to turn it off because all of us (I had a carload of 5) were afraid we would fall into a sleep-induced coma.

Thomas Hine writes in the The Rise and Fall of the American Teenager, “The purpose of high school was largely to indoctrinate youth with middle-class standards. But by segregating young people with many others their own age, universal high school education gave teenagers the chance to set standards of their own.” (p.243)

I’ve been blown away by the culture of high school students each and every time I’m around them. And I think you should be too. There’s always something to learn from them that you will miss if you’re not:

  • Open to learning and hearing from them. Even if they talk your ears off. That’s why you have two…one’s a back-up.
  • Humble and realize that you will never know everything.
  • ...yet bold. You’re there for a purpose! Don’t ever forget that the authority has been granted to you on behalf of Christ.

If we have a great high priest who knows our struggles (Hebrews 4:15), then certainly he knows how difficult it is to be immersed in a student’s realm.

When we look at John 4 and Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman, I wonder if he’s not surprised by her. In some ways I think his human side comes out when he asks,

Go, call your husband and come back. I have no husband, she replied. Jesus said to her, You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.

There is an element of astonishment here. It seems as if He’s caught off guard. The feeling of surprise is a marker that we know we’re in a new territory or culture when we’re witnessing the unexpected. If you’re a student of students, then look for something new every time you’re in their world.

Even if it does threaten to put you to sleep.

Cody Ray Charland

Cody Ray Charland is a second year MATM student at Fuller’s Pasadena campus. He holds a BA in Physical Education from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. As Project Assistant with the Fuller Youth Institute, he handles social media, and helps with writing, technology, and research. He was formerly a Young Life leader as well as Youth Pastor at Port City Community Church in Wilmington, NC. Cody enjoys the outdoors, all things Tar Heel, and barbecue.


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