Are you part of the debate? Some contend that everyone is special because we’re all equal. For others, if everyone is special no one is special. Certainly, for them, special does not mean equal for everyone is not equal. On the other hand, some would counter, special means equal because we’re all the same. The debate spills over into the classroom. Do you pass everyone, do you give an “A” to everyone when they are not performing at the same level? Does everyone need to get a certificate or should you recognize only those who perform above average? Do you deal with this in your youth group?
Special means equal in our need of each other
It is true that everyone is not the same. We’re gifted differently. We have different abilities. That is not a minus. It is a plus. We are here to complement each other:
Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body.And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? (1 Corinthians 12:14–19).
Isn’t that a wonderful passage? In many ways, even though different, we are equal in our need of each other—special means equal
Special means equal because of God
There’s another way in which special means equal. We are all created and loved by God. Jesus Christ came, died and rose again because of God’s great love for the world (John 3:16). Moreover, God created you, each person, specially:
You are the one who created my innermost parts;
you knit me together while I was still in my mother’s womb.
I give thanks to you that I was marvelously set apart.
Your works are wonderful—I know that very well (Psalm 139:13–24).
All of this makes you special. All of this puts us on an equal footing. Yes. Special means equal comes right back to creator God.
Special means equal, but . . .
It’s important to remember what we said earlier, that we come from different places with different gifts and abilities. One person will do well in one area. Another will do well in another area. In this way, special does not always mean everyone doing well all the time in each area. It’s important to acknowledge and celebrate the different ways in which people do well. It’s more honest. You give young people a better and more sustainable understanding of themselves. They can better contribute to your ministry, church, and society. In addition, when you celebrate all the different gifts and abilities, each person will have their turn to be affirmed and recognized.
You minister in a time when young people want everyone to be recognized and to feel good. This is what they want for themselves as well. However, being recognized and feeling good need to be on a solid foundation. In this way their self-understanding and confidence will not rise and fall on external validation such as likes on social media. Rather, they will be rooted in an understanding of their unique creation by God, the love God has for them, and the knowledge that they have a role to play based on their special gifts and abilities.
Special means equal when it is based on the solid foundation.
Living fully. Living faithfully. Following Christ.
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