Today I return home after being with a group of students, who gathered in Salt Lake City, that were from the states of Montana, Wyoming and Utah. I spoke at a youth conference they put on each year and it was a pretty awesome time. I have been extremely privileged over the last 20+ years to speak to thousands of students and each time I do so I go away encouraged that God is raising up some awesome young people in this generation.
Popular culture would have us believe that this generation has no hope and things look bleak on the horizon of their lives, but I would beg to differ. There has never been a more talented, gifted and “willing to make an impact” generation than the one that is currently on the scene.
Paul told Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:12
Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. (NLT)
This got me to thinking about this generation of youth and what Paul meant when he said “don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young?” In my mind, looking back on my youth (which really wasn’t that long ago LOL), I began thinking of a few areas I could talk about that I think the youth of this generation should consider.
Well, I have gone and done it! I have jumped back into my Master’s program and now I am wondering why I took time off when I was so close to finishing. I could list a million excuses but the truth is life came along and caught me off-gaurd with stuff I wasn’t expecting. I made a choice to step away for the last couple of years and now I am kicking myself because I was very close to wrapping it up. I am having to gear up and go after it again and that is easier said than done.
I think there are couple lessons I would like to share in this transitional time of my life:
- It may be easy to step away but you lose momentum once you do: So often we think it is not a big deal to step away from a commitment or something we have been investing our time and energy into and that we can quickly pick up where we left off. The opposite is true. Momentum is sometimes difficult to get back and it may take awhile to achieve. If we are not careful we will make excuses and assume it really doesn’t matter if we step aside.
- Once you stop or step away it takes more energy to get started again – Once you have stopped moving forward in a certain direction, after having tremendous momentum, it is difficult to pick back up where you left off and move forward. In my opinion it takes a couple of necessary ingredients to get back in the flow:
- YOU HAVE TO FOCUS – Paying attention to details. Focus on what is the most important things in your life and zero in on those things! We can get sidetracked so quickly by everything that is going on around us. Sometimes you have to put blinders on and just keep moving forward.
- YOU HAVE TO CUT SOME THINGS OUT – I had to make some decisions on what is truly important right now in my life. I had to trim away things I was a part of that were taking away from the end goal. Sometimes we can get involved in so much that we become distracted. If you and I are not careful we can live up to that old adage; Jack of all trades, Master of none! You have to ask yourself – what am I really wanting from my life? Once you know that then you may have to trim some fat so to speak.
Thankfully life is all about fresh starts and new opportunities. They say that today is the first day of the rest of your life! So I challenge you to look at what you may have started that you have stepped away from and get some renewed focus and try again! You may have to back up for a better start! I know I have had to do that many times in my life.
What lessons have you learned by stepping away from something you may have started? Leave us a comment.
This past week my wife and I were privileged to speak at a marriage conference held in Little Rock, Arkansas. I am thankful for the opportunity to pour into couples that are interested in making their marriages stronger. It was a great 3 days as we discussed the importance of what a godly marriage looks like and how we can continue to grow in marriage and in our relationship with God.
God designed marriage to be a representation of what His relationship with His church should look like. I believe our churches are only as strong as our weakest marriages. The greatest example we can give the world about the love of Christ for His people is to reveal it in our relationships, especially in the relationship of marriage.
Yet the truth is that sometimes our marriages do not look like what the Word of God says they should. In fact, so often it is just the opposite. We tend to think we can compartmentalize our lives and be blessed of God. What I mean by that is simply this; I have my church life and I have my home life and they are two different things! That is not the correct way to view our lives and it often leads to major problems in our relationships. You cannot expect God to bless you if you are one way at church or on the job or with your friends and another way when you are at home with your family.
Successful lives only truly exist when our private life matches our public life. When what we show in public is how we live in private! This takes character! Character is who you are in the dark, when no one is around to see you. I have noticed that we often elevate people based on talent and ability and neglect to consider their character. I say it often and yet it remains true – You can only go as high as your character is deep!
In our marriages and relationships let’s be who we are called to be by God. We are called to reveal Christ and that starts in our marriages and family relationships. I think there are a few ways we can do this:
As most of you know, I was born with the “gift” of having only one hand and I am extremely grateful for the journey my life has been on. To be honest, I wouldn’t change a thing. I have learned so much about life and who I am and who God created me to be. Everyday there seems to be something new I am being taught and for that I am thankful.
I remember back a few years to a very pivotal moment in my life. It was the end of 2009 and I found myself somewhat curious about prosthetics and what was being provided for congenital amputees (people born missing limbs). I decided to do a google search and discovered something called “The iLimb.” It was a bionic sort of arm that operated on the movement of muscles, opening and closing. I decided to take a closer look and as a result ended up with being the proud owner of the iLimb.
Now you must understand, having been born without a hand and never really wearing prosthetics of any kind (I did have some as a child but seldom wore them), presented quite a challenge for me. I decided to chronicle my journey in a blog and post a video each day for 100 days on what it was like living life with two hands. I had no idea it would go viral and impact people around the world. For 100 days I carried a video camera around and I posted videos about my journey and what it was like. In fact it was an adventure I will never forget and I am working on a new book that will relate some of the journey I went on. It will be available sometime next year.
Oftentimes, things come into our lives to teach us lessons about who we are and who God created us to be. My prosthetics practitioner told me when I received the iLimb, that it would be something that I might not always wear because I was born without a hand. Trying to replace something that I never had was a challenge for me. I was accustomed to
Life is truly about stepping into one challenge after another. That is the pattern of life and one that each of us have come to expect if we have any desire to make an impact with our lives. Looking back over my life, seeing the challenges I have experienced being born with having only one hand, I have discovered something that I think is very important to understand:
God is more interested in our character than He is our comfort!
If life was all about just being comfortable, nothing of any lasting value would ever be created. Some of the best books were written in a season of struggle. Some of the best sermons were birthed in a time of testing. Some of the best songs were written when someone’s back was against the wall. Character is formed in the fire.
The struggle we often encounter is when we try to eliminate the challenge for an easier road. In our humanity we often want to take the path of least resistance. That will get you no where! Anytime I face a challenge or come up against something that I believe I have been called to do, but I know it will be difficult, I ask myself this question; “But what if I don’t?”
If I don’t take this on or I don’t tackle that situation, what will happen? Inside each of us there is a God given passion to be everything He has called us to be and if we are not careful we will push back from the challenge and not follow His plan for us. You may be reading this and recently have felt the resistance against doing what you are called to do. I would encourage you to step out, overcome the fear of failure, peer pressure or whatever it may be that is holding you back and go for it! This world may be waiting on you to create the next life-changing idea!
If you don’t, then who will?