Overcoming the Second Son Mentality

This past week I had the opportunity to go on our church’s high school mission trip to Fuge Camps in Louisville, Kentucky. I always love being able to do this, it’s such a great time to build relationships with students and be intentional on showing them the power of community and serving others. It was incredible. I was able to serve children who come from low income housing and have families who are either split or having to work long hours. We were all put into different groupings to serve areas of the city, each student being placed exactly where God wanted them to be. That was a great little revelation about the week, just how God places us exactly where he wants us to learn and grow. The week was filled with service, community, and spiritual growth for both the students and leaders. To be completely honest, I wasn’t expecting much for myself other than building connections with students, silly me. God had something else in store for me. I was with children during the day that just need a chance and to know they are loved by God, something that I have a desire for every child to know. It was so powerful to see this day care center be intentional about preaching the gospel to the kids and letting them know that only God defines them. I went from this service time of fun and filled with bizarre experiences (like seeing a gross horse, but that story is for another time), and then went into a service time of the pastor speaking to the students and into me. Leading up to camp I had been reading through the parable of the prodigal son, and come to find out, the pastor would speak directly from that parable, not a coincidence. The parable from Jesus is of a young man who asks for his inheritance and goes off the deep end with partying, ending up losing it all and coming home. He is then received by his father and thrown a party. His story is not mine. My story is that of the second son.

The second son in the parable is the rule follower, the one who tries to earn his place in everything he does with the father. When the first son returns home the second son is jealous, I mean, how could he get a party when I’ve been working this whole time? The second son asks the father why he hadn’t been rewarded, and the father replies that he has given the son everything, he didn’t need to prove that he was worth it. I’m the second son, I follow the rules because I want to be praised, I want people to look at me because of what I’ve done; I hate being the second son. I think many of us suffer from this mindset, always trying to earn our place when we don’t have to do that anymore, we have been saved by grace. This week God broke my heart for this topic, the bondage that comes from the second son mentality. He showed me simple steps that I have taken to break free from this mindset, and it is helping me live in freedom. The second son mentality holds us back, because we can’t let God move freely within us. When we overcome the second son mentality, we can move forward and live in God’s unending grace. Today, I will share what I have learned, and my hope is that you or someone you know can benefit from it and step into true freedom knowing that they have been saved by God’s grace, knowing that they are his child.

Let go of hate for the first son.

This is hard. It’s something I didn’t realize I was suffering from, I don’t hate anything, but God revealed that my heart was filled with it for the first son. I was in the service of the camp in the back, making myself available for anyone who needed prayer (little did I know that I needed the prayer), I decided to listen to the spirit and talk to our youth pastor Seth. I talked and we prayed and I realized that the first son in my life, was someone that I hated, I didn’t even think I did. Because of my hate, I felt like I had to prove myself to my family that I was worth it, that I was the good one, and that I had to keep the family together. I’ve been jealous of him, I see his support and got frustrated, I mean I just want to be noticed and get people to read what I write. That’s not the way to live, or to think. I think you have hate for the first son in your life, and it’s killing you. I prayed that night with Seth, joined together in a battle I had been losing for a while, and I asked to let go of that hate, that true anger and pain rooted in sin. Not only did I pray to let go of the hate, but I prayed for forgiveness of the way I had been directing thoughts of the first son. When we let go of the hate, we let God enter in. When we let God in, the enemy runs away because he has no power in the presence of the almighty God.

Stand with fellow believers in community.

I joined with Seth in prayer that night, but I also stood in community with that youth group. After I got done praying (tears in my eyes and nose running), I had one of my close friends and someone who is a sister to me, Tessa, come up to me and just give me a hug. I know, not too big of a deal, but it meant a lot to me. After that I walked with my fellow leaders as they were all encouraging not only to me, but each other. We all joined in our church group time and shared what God had been teaching in our lives during the week. Afterwards we split into guys and girls, and partnered with each other. We prayed for each other and spoke life over each other, we were a picture of the church in its’ truest state. It was powerful. My heart was receptive and I was reaffirmed that even though I felt like I wasn’t making an impact, I was impacting the lives that matter and only through Christ within me. You see, we need to join in community in order to live free. The second son had no community from what we can see, he was so focused on what the people thought, that he never had people who could stand with him. Don’t fall prey to this, stand with believers in community, be the church.

Serve others without inward gain.

The final piece of this puzzle is now that you’ve let go of hate and joined with community of other believers, you can serve others. The second son only served so he could gain influence and be noticed, this is such an opposite view of serving others. Serving others should be the outpouring of the heart, it should be the love of Christ being shown through you. I want to serve others because God has provided me with so much, not to be seen. The way this really stood out to me was after the session of speaking life, someone who has been like a little brother to me in my life, came up to me and asked if we would pray for his brother, my best friend. With tears welling up, both then and now when I’m writing this, we prayed. We prayed with a fire of the spirit burning inside of us, blazing every word we spoke and the power of the spirit leading us. It made me think about my serving of others. Not only should I serve those I don’t know, but I need to press into the people in my love that I truly care for and serve them so I can help them find their way home. In order to overcome the second son mentality, we need to serve others because of the outpouring of God’s grace in our lives.

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This week was empowering. I wasn’t the only one with a breakthrough moment, I was one of many. So many memories and stories were being written this week in the lives of each person who went. For me, I overcame my second son mindset, and came home needing to share my revelations with you. I think you have been struggling with the second son mindset for too long. So many times the passage is preached on the focus of the first son, we can forget about the second son. I want you to be free from that mindset, because living that way will kill you. I want you to let go of the hate you have for the first son in your life, I want you to join with others in true community, and I want you to serve because it is a symbol of God’s love that he has shown to us. We are God’s children, made in his image. We don’t have to prove our worth, because God calls us worthy. Remember that you are made to live in freedom through Christ, and when you stand with him, he will guide you through the darkest storms you will face.

Overcome the second son and live in the grace of God.

-Joshua Thomas

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