To Teach Is to Learn (Justin Chou)


This past December, I had the privilege of serving at Bethel Youth Ministry’s winter retreat as a team leader. At first I was hesitant to commit, unsure if I could still relate to junior high and high schoolers. Fortunately, God has a way of moving us in the right direction. While debating whether to go or not, I remembered attending past youth retreats and how God used those retreats to still shape my walk with Christ today.

The four days in Big Bear was a blessed time of worship, listening to our guest speaker, and fellowshipping with one another. Pastor Jacob Cho from New Vision Life Church reminded us of the transformational message of the gospel. The theme for the retreat was “Reign”, to let the Lord reign supreme in our lives. I think it’s easy to get caught up in the day to day busyness of life and forget His sovereignty over us. As Christians we are to find satisfaction through Christ and live our life as a joyful response to the gospel message. The retreat was a heavy hitting reminder that my life belongs to Him.


For me the last night of prayer was the most memorable and emotional part of the retreat. It was the culmination of our time together. My heart was touched seeing broken relationships restored and an outpouring of Christ’s love. As everyone worshipped together in one voice, I could feel the Spirit moving in everyone. It reinforced the importance of youth ministry and how it is an incredible honor to be a small part of their lives.

In leading a small group, I found myself sharing more than I ever intended to. At first I thought it would be better to not share some of the messier details of my past. The first few discussions in the group were awkward and quiet. I realized if I wanted the boys to speak and share, then I would need to lead by example. In being vulnerable with my small group, they in turn opened up about their grievances about their spiritual and personal lives. 


My sixth-grade teacher once said, “I learn more from you kids than I could ever teach you.” Fifteen years later, his words still resonate with me as I serve at BYM.  It’s been a blessing to walk alongside the students I encounter. Oftentimes students speak insight and wisdom far more impactful than I could ever hope to impart on them. Through teaching, you truly end up learning more about yourself and God.

Sometimes there are days when I wonder why I serve, why God has put it on my heart to be a Sunday school teacher or a counselor at a retreat. However when I look at the faces of our younger brothers and sisters and see God’s light shining through them, I feel an inexplicable joy. My hope and prayer for the ministry is that the students take ownership of this body of Christ and continue to pursue Him with reckless abandonment.