Living Like Jesus?

I just wanna honestly live like Jesus…

..said Justin Bieber at a recent concert.

It sounds great but is Justin Bieber a good role model for your son or daughter? What are students learning from him? How do you help teens process this recent transformation? Here are some practical approaches:

Follow Jesus not Justin

Or anybody else for that matter.

Adolescents are at a stage where they are developing their identity. It’s normal for them to try to be like their favorite star. They begin to pull away from their parents and pursue  popular role models. Bieber may be more positive than other celebrities, in some respects but he is not Jesus.

Your teen will be disappointed if they idolize their pastor or any pop star. They are called to follow Jesus. People will let them down. Bieber may be involved in other scandals or even turn away from his renewed to commitment to Jesus. If they were following Jesus, it won’t matter what Bieber does.

Parents are wise to point teens toward Christ instead of anyone else. We do this, in part, by following Jesus the best way that we can, so that we can say as the Apostle Paul did “follow me as I follow Christ.” (1 Cor. 11:1)

(if you are interested, here’s a recent interview he did where he discusses what he believes)

Need to be More than a Believer

Need to be a Disciple

What we have seen from Bieber’s past behavior, is that while he was saying that he believed in Jesus and he was attending Church, he was not living like Jesus. This can be a particulary dangerous example for teens. It leaves the impression that you can say that you are a Christian and do whatever you please. –Your faith doesn’t influence your lifestyle, decisions, or moral choices. That’s just wrong.

Now that Bieber is becoming more vocal about his faith and trying to learn more about it, he may be trying to live more like a disciple. What does a disciple do? Well, it’s like the Beibs says, …honestly live like Jesus.

The only way to live like Jesus is to know what Jesus did, know what Jesus said, talk to Jesus constantly, and learn to hear his voice, and yes, Do What Jesus Wants You to Do! That’s a lot for a student who is just trying to get through high school. We should be clear though, Jesus never said that being a disciple is only required of adults.

Discipleship requires both love and discipline. Its so hard to try to get any teen to read the bible if their heart isn’t in it. If we can inspire passion in them and get them started, students can begin to read the bible and start putting into practice what it says. I’ve seen it. I hope you have too!

Find your own Passion and Purpose

the right one

Below I have the full lyrics from Bieber’s new song Purpose. In it he says

I put my heart into your hands
Here’s my soul to keep
I let you in with all that I can
You’re not hard to reach
And you bless me with the best gift
That I’ve ever known
You give me purpose
Yeah, you’ve given me purpose

I know a teen whose whole purpose it to get away with breaking all the rules without getting caught. He’s passionate about this purpose. He stays up late and get’s up early to get around his parents and their rules.

So it is not just having passion and purpose that matters. It’s having the right  purpose. The bible is pretty clear that vain or selfish ambition can lead to destruction. It also explains that there’s a way (read purpose) that appears right to a man but it can end in death. (Philippians 2:3-4 and Proverbs 14:12)

Not every purpose is from God. Helping teens discover the purpose that God has placed them on this earth for will put their whole life in harmony with his plan for them. Teens should learn that choosing a rebellious or selfish purpose will lead to heartbreak and regrets. Finding and pursuing God’s purpose will bring them fulfillment, satisfaction, and joy!

The Bottom Line

Its okay if teens listen to Bieber’s better stuff, I guess. Its not bad for them to look up to him, when he is doing good things like going to church or pursuing his faith but I wouldn’t want them to listen to everything he has ever sung or make it their goal to be the Biebs, or shoot for celebrity status. Hopefully, for some teens who have never considered faith in Christ, Justin Bieber’s confession of faith may get them to consider learning more about Jesus. That would good.

Most importantly, teens (actually all of us) need to make it our purpose to follow Christ and to be like him, living as fully devoted disciples all our lives.


Here’s the song I mention above:


Feeling like I’m breathing my last breath
Feeling like I’m walking my last steps
Look at all of these tears I’ve wept
Look at all the promises that I’ve kept

I put my heart into your hands
Here’s my soul to keep
I let you in with all that I can
You’re not hard to reach
And you bless me with the best gift
That I’ve ever known
You give me purpose
Yeah, you’ve given me purpose

Thinking my journey’s come to an end
Sending out a farewell to my friends, forever peace
Ask you to forgive me for my sins, oh would you please?
I’m more than grateful for the time we spent, my spirit’s at ease

I put my heart into your hands
Learn the lessons you teach
No matter what, wherever I am
You’re not hard to reach
And you’ve given me the best gift
That I’ve ever known
You give me purpose everyday
You give me purpose in every way

Oh, you are my everything…
Oh, you are my everything…

I don’t know if this is wrong
Because someone else is telling me that it’s wrong
But I feel this so let me just like, try my best not to let this happen again
We weren’t necessarily put in the best position to make the best decisions.

You can’t be hard on yourself
For these were the cards that you were given so you have to understand that these, like…
That’s not who you are
You’re trying to be the best you can be but that’s all you can do
If you don’t give it all you got, you’re only cheating yourself
Give it all you got
But if it ends up happening, it ends up happening.

That’s what it’s….that’s what’s happening with me
It’s like God I’m giving it all I got, sometimes
I’m weak and I’m gonna do it, and it’s like I’m not giving myself grace
I’m just like understanding, that’s just how it is.

Songwriters: Bieber, Boyd Stephen, Philibin Eben Wares, Jeremy Snyder, Scooter Braun.
© Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

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Ron Powell


Ron Powell is the Adviser to the Director of the Youth Ministry Institute at Vanguard College. He has been involved in youth ministry for over 30 years. He continues to volunteer, write, teach, and speak to parents, leaders and teens. If you would like to contact him you can email