What’s Needed to Help Students Find Their Calling

What’s Needed to Help Students Find Their Calling

WHAT’S NEEDED TO HELP STUDENTS FIND THEIR CALLING

This guest post was written by our High School Associate Director, Aaron Harder. For more information about our middle school or high school ministries and when they meet, check out QUEST and The Crossing.


Perhaps you are wondering what is happening to today’s youth, what causes millennial’s and Generation Z to feel so entitled. Why do these generations seem to be leaving the church at faster and faster rates? If you’ve wondered these things, maybe you should ask what your role is in transforming those realities. I’m beginning to believe the problem is not with them, but with who is—or rather, is not—teaching them.

I’ve noticed the most peculiar phenomenon about today’s youth: most of them link godliness and being Christ-like to working in a church or being a pastor. It’s as if they see a career in ministry as the final stop on the train of Christian maturity. They don’t know what it looks like to be a Christian in other workplaces.

It’s not that our pastors and church staff employees cannot be great examples for the next generation—they are–but our students often fail to equate working as a doctor, lawyer, accountant, financial advisor, or school teacher as a godly calling. To them, the ultimate way to pursue God is to work in a church.

Often, some of our students believe they’re called to vocational ministry because they don’t often understand what it looks like to be godly in other vocations. It’s difficult to see them stuck in this dichotomy—between a calling to Christian ministry and engaging one’s faith at work and pursuing some other vocation that doesn’t seem to connect to their faith.

It may be obvious, but it seems necessary to say that our God doesn’t call everyone to be a pastor or worship leader; He is too creative to only limit Christians to one field or industry and he wants us all to actively engage our faith and the world, no matter what career field we pursue. Every week at youth group, I get to see the different gifts and talents God displays in the lives of our students as I talk with students about their favorite classes, sports, art projects, and choir concerts. God calls His children to display His glory in every aspect of life, and that happens in every area of work—not solely in vocational ministry.

How do we remind our students of this truth? As a church, we cannot make the mistake of believing that mentoring youth is only the job of church employees. There is an important place for pastors and church workers to disciple our youth and there is also a great need for our youth to be mentored by Christian mortgage bankers, IT men and women, and school teachers, too.

Godly men and women who work in the marketplace of the world must help us—the pastors and church workers of the world—show today’s youth that Christians work outside of the church, too. We want our students to believe that serving and worshiping God occurs at all times throughout the day and in every aspect of life, not just what happens inside church doors. This next generation needs to see how godliness can be displayed at a hospital, business meeting, courtroom, and classroom. We don’t need more seminary degrees (though they are helpful), we just need more people to be willing to point the next generation towards Jesus in every area of their lives and rely on His power in their life to transform lives. Period.

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Did Jesus Ever Hurry?

Did Jesus Ever Hurry?

DID JESUS EVER HURRY

We have more technology at our fingertips than those before us experienced throughout entire lifetimes. All this efficiency hasn’t helped us slow down though; it’s only made us move faster. Daily tasks like cleaning and cooking are accomplished by pushing a button, but they haven’t created more space in our calendars. We can message someone across the world in an instant, but we’re increasingly disconnected in our relationships. Hurry and hustle is swiftly eating up our time—and maybe even our peace of mind. Is this the way Jesus wanted us to live?

When you read the gospels, do you get a sense Jesus is rushing from one thing to another like we do from meeting to meeting? Jesus never gives us the sense that he was “checking his watch” and worry others were going to make him late with their requests. He lived a full and a fully obedient life without ever running out of time.

Gordon MacDonald further explores the philosophy of life Jesus had and his relationship to his time. How was it that he managed his time so well, allowing for times of reflection and service? MacDonald writes, “The first think that impresses me is that Jesus clearly understood His mission. He had an overarching task to perform, and He measured His use of time against that sense of mission…It is impressive to realize that there were thirty years of relative obscurity and privacy in preparation for three years of important activity.”

Jesus understood different seasons of life required different responses, expectations, and opportunities. His awareness of his mission served as the foundation for both his private preparation and public ministry. As you identify the season of life you’re in and anticipating, make sure you also recognize your personal mission that can help drive your choices in both.

All Christians are expected to join in God’s mission of reconciliation to the world and we’re each uniquely gifted to join in that larger mission. Here are a few questions that can help you discern your personal mission:

1 // What am I good at?

2 // What am I passionate about?

3 // What need do I see in the world around me?

Once you identify your mission and current season, you’ll be free to say “yes” to the best things instead of trying to do everything. Don’t rush through this season or the next. Follow Jesus’ example to choose obedience over hurry.

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What Are You Afraid Of?

What Are You Afraid Of?

WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF?

Christianity is no spectator sport. There’s no sitting on the sidelines while trying to follow Jesus. Once we decide to follow him, Jesus invites us to join him in his mission of loving others sacrificially. Selfless sacrifice is what Jesus would define as “love.” In John 15:13, he tells his disciples,

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13

Most of us would prefer to keep the idea of “love” as far from sacrifice as possible, where more warm-fuzzies abound and fewer hard choices are made. Unless there’s something to personally gain in exchange, we often withdraw from self-sacrifice. Our natural reflex—if we allow it to rule us—keeps us from engaging Jesus’ mission or becoming more like him.

Instead, we can choose to love like Jesus did and that decision takes some rewiring of our beliefs.

CONFRONTING FEAR

First, we have to confront the main fear underlying our distaste for loving others sacrificially. Yes, it’s generally uncomfortable, but what are we really afraid of risking? What is lost if we choose to love like Jesus?

“If I sacrifice myself to love others, who will take care of me?” a small and fearful voice inside each of us asks. Whether it’s our time, energy, or money, we know that these are limited resources, so a choice to give it away leaves us with petty leftovers—if anything at all. Left to our own devices that small voice will grow until our desire to make sure we’re well fed and taken care of rules every area of our lives.

Is that voice telling us the truth? Jesus’ words in Matthew 16:25 reverses our implicit assumption:

“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 16:25

Tightening your grasp around your own resources won’t produce the outcome you desire. Giving your life away by loving others is the only way to receive what God is offering us: a life free from our own self-seeking.

BELIEVING WHAT IS PROMISED

God doesn’t just demand we try harder at being less selfish. He frees us from focusing on ourselves—even how to take care of ourselves. Promises about God’s care for his children abound in the Bible. Here’s one to hold tightly whenever self-focused fear rises and doubt of God’s care looms:

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6: 25-33

We won’t let go of the fear that we need to take care of ourselves until we grasp the truth that God does care and will care for us. We will be free to lose our lives once we trust the one who has promised us eternal life.

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How to Develop Patience

How to Develop Patience

HOW TO DEVELOP PATIENCE

We all want to grow the spiritual fruit of patience—or at least our family members want us to. Just like fruit on the vine, spiritual fruit doesn’t pop up overnight. It takes time to grow and cultivate patience, but—also like gardening—not without any work.

There will always be situations we’re unwillingly forced to wait in, so we need to discipline ourselves before those occasions arrive. Each of us can choose to place ourselves in situations and circumstances that help us let go of our own timelines and practice patience.

In her book on spiritual disciplines, Adele Ahlberg Calhoun defines the practice of pursuing patience as a discipline of “slowing” that helps curb our addiction to immediate gratification. She asks us to search our hearts for how deeply we need patience, questioning,

“How do you feel about being stuck behind cars that go slowly? How do you react to a slow sales clerk? What is your response to children who dawdle?”

What’s the solution to our impatience? Choose to live more slowly and we’ll train ourselves to trust God’s perfect timing, to resist “spiritual shortcuts,” and to recognize that God’s unseen work simply takes time.

Below are some of her suggestions and more:

1 // Drive in the slow lane.

2 // Choose the longest line at the grocery store.

3 // Eat more slowly.

4 // Sit at the table after dinner and talk.

5 // Take a longer shower.

6 // Create buffer time in between appointments.

7 // Read the Bible slowly, taking time to consider each word and phrase.

8 // Drive the long way home.

9 // Invite your kids to help with a task.

10 // Call someone on the phone instead of texting.

This post was adapted from content in Adele Ahlberg Calhoun’s book, “Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us.”

we believe in church that is

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CAMPUSES


LITTLETON

Saturdays at 5 PM
Sundays at 8 | 9:15 | 11 AM

620 Southpark Dr.
Littleton, CO 80120
303.794.3564

DOVE VALLEY

Sundays at 10:30 AM
14076 E. Briarwood Ave.
Centennial, CO 80112
303.537.2795

ONLINE CAMPUS

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10 Ways to Fight Arrogance

10 Ways to Fight Arrogance

10 WAYS TO FIGHT ARROGANCE

Arrogance is a tricky thing. It’s hard to identify in ourselves, and it’s even harder to root out once we find it. Not only does our nature predispositions us towards arrogance, but our culture fosters it as well. From declarations of being a “self-made” man to exhortations to “look out for number one,” there’s no shortage of encouragement to believe that we can live our lives independent of God.

Consequently, we have to actively fight our own arrogance if we’re going to grow in humility and acceptance of our own dependence on God. Moment by moment and day by day, we must engage practices that help us squash the presence and growth of our own pride in exchange for the humility that God desires for us.

Here are ten things you can do—from sun up to sun down—to fight an arrogant attitude:

1 // When you wake up, ask God what he wants you to do today and submit the plans you do have to God’s ability to change them.

2 // Remind yourself throughout the day that God’s divine appointments are often disguised as momentary inconveniences.

3 // Discern where you’re trying to live independently from God and confess your sins to an accountability partner.

4 // When you’re interrupted in the middle of task, remind yourself that God’s plans are bigger than yours and that he wants you to show his grace and love to everyone you interact with today.

5 // Be transparent about your shortcomings and struggles to fight the urge to create an image of perfection fueled by pride.

6 // Even before being confronted, ask for forgiveness from someone you’ve wronged, whether it was through thought, speech, or action.

7 // Ask for others to pray for you in an area you’re struggling in.

8 // When your plans are disrupted, thank God for his sovereign control and personal care to direct your life.

9 // Privately and publicly praise others with specifics details; explain both what they did that you appreciated and how you’re thankful for who that shows they are.

10 // When you go to bed, thank God for any good he enabled you to do through the opportunities he provided and offer any praise you received as a gift to him.

Seeing Needs and Doing Faith

Seeing Needs and Doing Faith

SEEING NEEDS AND DOING FAITH

James 2:14 inquires,

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?”

As James goes on, he argues that faith without deeds is particularly worthless for those who are in need. “Dead” faith sees a need, but doesn’t do anything to meet it. Instead, real religion can be seen through action.

If we want to be the kind of people who have faith that is real and alive, we must be ready to help and serve others. Our busy schedules and hurried days threaten to keep us from enacting our faith in this way, but these three steps can help us to continue to cultivate real and authentic faith:

Ask to discover the real need

But what about the rest of the time? How often do you ask someone else, “What could I do to help you?” or “How could I serve you?” People may be resistant to answer, but that doesn’t allow us to avoid asking. In James’ example, the need was obvious—food and clothing—but this isn’t always the case. If you’re like me, you might be guilty of assuming what someone else needs and missing the real need. Sometimes this means we give money when what was needed was quality time, or vice versa.

Do what you can

None of us can meet every need of everyone around us, but before we simply tell someone, “I’ll pray for you,” we can do what we can to meet that expressed need. This is the point at which we can be creatively incarnational—being Jesus’ hands and feet to everyone we meet. Maybe your elderly neighbor next door is lonely; offer to cook for her once a week and let her teach you how to crochet. Maybe a friend has a hard time getting to church because he doesn’t have a car; offer to drive him and have dinner together afterward. Maybe a young friend is having trouble finding a job; offer to help review her resume and practice interviewing together. If you can offer someone a home, car, or job to help, don’t assume God doesn’t want you to help in those big ways, too. However, not being able to completely solve someone elses’ problem doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways you can help and be Jesus to him or her.

Pray

Prayer doesn’t come last because it’s a last resort, but because it shouldn’t serve as a scapegoat for our inaction, as it does in James’ example. Just like his audience, we can also be guilty of offering to pray for someone instead of actively showing our faith through our action. However, even with all our efforts, we acknowledge that God is ultimately in control of circumstances. God desires to care for his children and He often chooses to do so through the normal means of people, so we pray, not instead of action, but as we act.