Students today find themselves with a lot of time on their hands. They are navigating a new world in isolation, battling for the thoughts in their mind. How are churches responding?
It’s important for church leaders to be proactive in this fight and give tangible tools to students facing this temptation. I’ve heard from several ministries and this is a real issue. We created a sexual sin recovery primer for our Crave Freedom resource (an in-depth 30-day sexual sin recovery too–see link at the bottom) called Fighting Temptation.
This post will share with you how to walk through this with your student. It is a 5 step process to help students fight idleness and the temptation of sexual sin.
It’s important to press into your students that their primary weapons in this battle are the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit. They need to rest in their promises, truth, and power. God has also given them community and wisdom to help during this battle and that’s what they need to lean into, which is what this resource helps with.
#1 Help them find an advocate
Is there someone further along in the faith than them that can walk alongside them to help? This person needs to love them, give grace not shame, and hold them accountable. An advocate will partner and not police. An advocate does not need to be someone who is currently struggling with the same sin.
#2 Set them up with a temptation tracker
A temptation tracker is used to document when a student has a temptation to sin. Here’s what they record when they are tempted to sin:
- Record the day on your calendar (this is on the temptation tracker section at the bottom)
- Time of day
- Where they were at
- What they were doing
For instance, they may be tempted to give in to sexual temptation on Monday at 10:00pm while lying in their bed looking at images on Instagram. Over time they will see a theme. This will allow you to know areas where you are vulnerable to be tempted and how they can better respond. Download the temptation tracker.
#3 Help them develop an escape plan
Whenever they are tempted their response will most likely be to take the path of least resistance, which is sin. Therefore, they need to develop a new path to take during temptation. This is a 30-minute escape plan that will remove them from their current location and get them active for 30 minutes. During this time they need to begin to pray. Over time this creates a new path to escape. Here are some examples of an escape plan:
- Go for a run and pray as you run
- Workout and pray
- Remove yourself from that physical space and hangout in a different room and pray
- Read a book of the Bible
#4 Establish boundaries
Students need to understand that boundaries do not fix temptations but they do help curb them. Helping them put healthy boundaries in place that will guard them against the possibility of being tempted. Here’s what this can look like:
- Putting your phone in another room after a certain time at night
- Not using the explore feature on Instagram or not allowing yourself to scroll
- Not being one-on-one in a private place with someone of the opposite sex
- Use accountability software on your computer, tablet, or cell phone, such as Covenant Eyes
#5 Give them tools to learn about their struggle
Set them up to read several books to learn about this struggle. They are not alone. They are in this with every man and woman on this planet. The more they know, the more empowered they will become and will feel less isolated and condemned.
- Surfing for God: Discovering the Divine Desire Beneath Sexual Struggle by Michael Cusick – this book will help you understand what’s at the heart of porn and sexual addiction
- Hooked: The Brain Science on How Casual Sex Affects Human Development by Joe McIllhaney – this book will help you understand the science behind porn and sexual addiction
- Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters by Tim Keller – this is an excellent book that really gets to the central problem of sexual sin: the heart. Keller talks about how money, sex, and power offer promises they can’t keep and how the Gospel is our only hope
- Every Woman’s Battle: Discovering God’s Plan for Sexual and Emotional Fulfillment by Shannon Ethridge – Shannon helps women realize the only way women can survive the intense struggle for sexual integrity is by guarding not just your body, but your mind and heart as well
- Sexual Detox: A Guide for Guys Who Are Sick of Porn by Tim Challies – Tim helps young men gain a biblical perspective and apply these biblical truths to their situation
If you’re interested in taking this a step further, I recommend a more robust process SBTC has created in Crave Freedom. It includes more elements and accountability than Fighting Temptation, including daily resources for students to walk through and a mentor/mentee function. If you are a leader who is helping several people through this, it is an organized way to keep track of where everyone is at.
If you’re a leader struggling with this issue, Josh Proctor has a ministry dedicated to helping leaders overcome this struggle and liberate their students from it as well. He can be reached via his ministry Caleb Micah Ministries.