Okay, you want to become a Alongsider, but why would you do that?
I regularly get the question "what brings me?" or "what brings others?". I understand these questions. After all, in what you do, you want to be sure that you are contributing, that you are putting your energy into something good. That question stems entirely from something we call 'purpose' - we all want to live for something, right?
Before we look at good reasons for becoming a Alongsider and take stock of what it brings us, it is important to take a step back and ask ourselves where our motivation comes from.
Is your motivation intrinsic? Does it come from within? Are you Alongsider because you see that Jesus asks you to be Alongsider? Or does your motivation come from other - non-intrinsic - sources?
We believe that the only right motivation comes from following Jesus, and that you - just like your Master Jesus - want to reach out to the people around you. In the case of Alongsiders - your younger brother or sister. If Jesus is your motivation, it will remain even when things get tough.
Being an Alongsider brings you a lot. Personally, for your younger brother or sister, but also for the church.
Steven Covey, in his book describing characteristics of 'effective' or 'successful' people, says that we only really learn when we receive but also pass on. A lesson only really 'settles' in your heart when you pass it on to someone else.
Just a few words from Jesus & the Bible:
"As the Father has sent Me, so I also send you." (John 20:21)
"We love because He first loved us. "(1 John 4:19)
In the texts above you see the same movement that Steven Covey also observes. Passing on, not keeping to yourself, equipping others. Jesus loves us - we pass on that love. The Father sent the Son, the Son also sends us. And according to Paul, we are also part of this movement when he instructs Timothy to pass on what he knows to others who can also pass it on. (2 Timothy 2:2) A movement, therefore. And that is good for others, because it brings them into contact with the Lord Jesus. But it is also good for you. You learn enormously through it, and you grow into the image of the Master - Jesus.
Growth, therefore. That is what it brings you. And don't we want to grow? Don't we want to become more like the Master we are following?
And so you come to the point of 'mastery', skill. We want to become good, to become skilled in making disciples. The best way to do that is to look at the Master Jesus himself and then to pass it on to someone else. You may just discover in the process that you were made for that purpose.
For your younger brother or sister.
Loneliness is a problem. And it is not a problem that is slowly diminishing, no, it is growing. And - as is often the case - it hits children and the vulnerable especially hard.
The moment a lonely child gets a Alongsider, it means a lot. From that moment on, there is someone who helps invest in him or her. Hopefully there was a loving father & mother, but maybe the situation is not so perfect. However it is, from the moment a Alongsider comes, there is someone who helps invest in him or her. And that helps, that builds, that strengthens.
Jesus has special attention for children. In Mark 10:14 we read how Jesus let the children come to Himself just when the adults wanted to send them away. And notice, not just any adults, but the disciples themselves. This is a warning for us. We are the ones who can bring children to Jesus. Jesus comes to children when He can work through you. If your hands can be His hands. When His mouth is allowed to be your mouth. Then you speak words of blessing and may your hands offer comfort, play football together and bake delicious things together. Praying together, having fun together, listening and giving direction. How cool is that?
For the younger brother or sister, a Alongsider is like an older brother or sister.
For the Church.
When young people become Alongsiders, it has a huge impact on the church. Imagine that young people in the church stand up and each start investing in a younger brother or sister. Imagine if they did that - they would grow enormously in their faith. If they do that, then they come into contact with the world around them and may bring hope where there is so much hopelessness. Then they may bring light where there is darkness. And then they may be tastemakers where everything has become bland. Just imagine...
The church is strengthened by them. The church grows because of them. Perhaps in numbers, but certainly in depth, in the relationship with Jesus. Mature Christians. And from experience we can add that the Church will also grow enormously in enthusiasm, testimonies will be released, people will come to faith.
Isn't that what you want for the Church?
So far a success story, because that is what you want for everyone, isn't it? Yet this is not the complete story. It also costs a lot. It costs you time, attention, energy. You come up against questions you don't have answers to. Theory proves to be stubborn in practice, and sometimes you find yourself empty-handed. Following Jesus in this way certainly has a price, Jesus is very clear about that.
Would it be for this reason that Jesus gave His disciples as the very last promise: "See I am with you always, even to the end of the world"? (Matthew 28:20) He is with you. You may grow, your younger brother or sister may experience Jesus through you, the church is strengthened and you may be sure that Jesus is with you. Always.
I long for a movement of young people who make this sacrifice and reach out to their younger brother or sister.