You’ve just finished a DTS, congratulations!
It’s amazing that you’ve taken six months of your life to grow closer to Jesus. It’s been many years since I did my DTS, but it was such a life-changing experience. Not only did it transform my relationship with the Lord, but also with people.
In DTS, you develop friends for a lifetime. You’re in the trenches together on outreach, face many challenges together, and you see God come through. Moments like these will bond you together like a family. But when you leave and go back home after the school, it can feel like you are going through withdrawal because you don’t have the same support structure.
It can be challenging when you are no longer with your DTS being inspired to be on fire.
Here are five things to consider as you return home:
My first bit of advice for you is to be like Jesus – He often withdrew to be with His Father.
You and I must stay really intentional about our intimacy with the Lord. We need to make it a regular part of our lives. After DTS, you no longer have the structure of the school to help you do that. Instead, you’ve got to say, “God, I trust you for grace and for strength to make that a reality.” So, do whatever it takes: spend time in His Word, in prayer, and in personal worship. Take time to go deep in your intimacy with the Lord because that will really prepare you for the future.
Secondly, I encourage you to talk to your pastor.
After DTS, I visited my pastor and said to him, “I have really been growing in the Lord and I do not want to go backward. Would you be willing to meet with me every week to talk about my growth? You can ask me anything about my life, nothing is off-limits. I just want to continue to run hard after Jesus.”
He agreed to meet regularly with me, and those meetings were so helpful. I know some of us come from large churches and are not going to be able to meet with the senior pastor, but you can proactively find someone that could fill that mentorship role in your life. Just ask the Lord to show you who that person is. The first people you ask may say no, but don’t quit. Keep on pressing in until you find somebody who can walk with you. The person will not be responsible for your growth, you are, but they can be a sounding board and a helpful tool on your journey.
After returning from my DTS, another thing that I found really important was to think intentionally about my friends, the people I was spending time with.
Before I went to my DTS, some of the friendships I had didn’t push me toward the Lord, in fact, they pushed me away from the Lord. And to go back home after DTS and immerse myself with those friends was actually going to set me up for failure. I was still wanting to have contact with them, but I couldn’t make them my primary friends. I needed the ones with the greatest influence on me to be people that I could run alongside after the Lord.
So, I asked the Lord, “Who should be my friends?” I encourage you to do the same. Good friends will inspire us to grow in the Lord, but bad friends will push us away from the Lord. It’s important to surround yourself with people that are going to influence you positively. Of course, there may be old friends that you will want to witness to, and that’s great, do that! But you can’t surround yourself with people who are going to draw you away from the Lord, they will have an influence on you.
After DTS, how we communicate our experience is also essential to consider.
In DTS, we see God do the miraculous, we see extraordinary things happen. Often, students return home overflowing with excitement, but as they communicate, they can actually be misunderstood as prideful. Our sense of awe, wonder, and celebration about what God has done can lead us to be so aggressive in our sharing that people misunderstand us. If we share in this way, our good intentions can actually push people away from us. So, as you return home, I encourage you to communicate in a way that connects you with people and doesn’t alienate you.
Alongside this danger of misunderstanding, is the danger of being puffed up about our experiences.
I have spoken to pastors who have seen DTS students return to their church thinking that they are the experts. They refuse to humbly serve the church behind the scenes. Instead, they want to have a big public speaking role. This attitude can also lead to alienation. We must follow the pattern of Jesus – He was a humble servant.
And as a servant, He would do lowly tasks such as washing the disciples’ feet. We must be willing to serve and to follow the warning of Peter, in 1 Peter 5:5, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” So, I encourage you to be intentional about humbly serving your pastor, your local church, and your community.
In that place of service, you’ll have opportunities to impart some of the wonderful things that God has deposited in your heart. Those things need to be shared, but we need to earn the right to speak into others’ lives. We earn this right to speak and be heard by people by serving.
I invite you to continue to run hard after Jesus and to be white-hot for him. Refuse, absolutely refuse, to go backward. Do everything you can to stand firm: develop intimacy with Jesus daily, go deep in His Word, choose somebody to run with as a mentor, wisely choose friendships that inspire you toward greater godliness, and be determined to walk as a humble servant.
As you posture yourself in this way, I guarantee you, God will open opportunities for you to impart the wonderful truth that He has deposited in your life.
I am so glad you completed a DTS. I anticipate a lifetime of great impact and fruitfulness for you as you are faithful to the Lord.
Michael became a Christian just before his 20th birthday and attended his DTS in 1979. He has served in YWAM all but two years since that time. He and his wife, Darla, are the founding directors of YWAM Orlando. In addition to teaching internationally he also carries other leadership roles in YWAM. They have 3 children, 2 are currently serving in YWAM.