Passions / Purpose

Being back in school has been a bit of a weird thing. I’m fully online, getting my Masters in Divinity, which has been exciting as ministry (in whatever form it may take) is what I want to pursue. In these online classes there are discussion boards, which means you have to write a post and then reply to other students. It’s the most encouraging platform, because every reply you make and made on your posts agrees with you and says, “this was a really great post!” You feel like a million bucks on every discussion board.

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Remove the Mask

For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.

Luke 8:17

We have a problem. One that affects every aspect of our lives and keeps us from true freedom. That problem is sin, or in other terms, a separation between us and God. In this sin we choose selfish desires and do selfish things, we live in a world that says anything you want is okay and totally fine. We create masks to fit in, to be someone we aren’t. As leaders and followers of Christ, we create these masks as well. Sometimes we put on our, “of course I read scripture in the morning like an inspiring Instagram post,” or, “I’ve never done something as bad as that.” The one that I think hurts us the most is, “I’m fine,” when we are most certainly not fine. You see we feel like we have to be a certain way or like certain things to be a follower of Christ, we think we have to be perfect people. The truth is, God used broken people and he wants to use you. If you’re saying to yourself, “I’m not broken, I follow all the rules I’m supposed to,” this post is for you. If you’re also saying, “I feel like I can’t be who I am to really follow Christ,” this post is also for you. God made us unique and special, he made us to live in the light, and he doesn’t want us to hide behind our masks any longer.

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Learning to Rest in Times of Growth

Recently, my life has begun to move in a great pace with opportunity and success from hard work. It’s a great feeling to make an impact, to be using your talents and see the harvest that comes of it, but this can be dangerous. You may be saying to yourself, “Hold up, I thought you were describing things that are good? My answer to that is yes, it is good as well as a dangerous area.

Before I start confusing you, let me explain. I am currently in my second year of school at GTCC and will transfer to UNCG next semester. I am the youth intern at Daystar Church, assisting our Youth Pastor with behind the scenes planning and odd jobs that need attention. I am also Daystars Tap college ministries male community leader, essentially overseeing the small groups and empowering the leaders. I also lead a fourth and fifth grade small group on Sunday mornings in the Daystar Kids next gen ministry. I love everything that I am a part of, I am overjoyed to serve in such a great place, and I am thankful for my education.

None of these are inherently bad, but can be dangerous.

I have noticed recently that I am easily tired and often question if what I do is even worth it. This isn’t just a struggle that I have, but have seen people in my church and close family have these same issues. It’s difficult to pin point the main issue, and if you have been feeling similar lately, there is hope.

In times of busyness and growth in our lives, we take on more tasks and more responsibility. This is normal, but we must be careful, if we are not able to find rest we will fail in our mission. A term thrown around a lot in situations like this is known as, “burnout.” This can mean taking on more tasks than we can achieve, or forgetting to re-fill our spiritual tank.

If you want to accomplish anything, you must attack the problem preventing you from your goal.

Addressing the issue is not easy. Taking on more opportunities is a good thing, to a point, but once it consumes all of your time, this is the moment to re-evaluate what your mission is. Ask yourself why you keep taking on more responsibility, and yes it is perfectly fine to say no to some things. Rather than doing more, be the best at the little that you already have. Direct energy towards your ministry you have been called to, and cut out the things that cause you to be less effective in all areas. This is applicable to every area of life, whether it be in your ministry, job, or relationships with others. Move the mountain piece by piece, rather than attempting to lift it at once.

The next big problem that causes this idea of “burnout,” is the issue of doing it all by yourself. In modern American society, the theme is to be independent, but we need to be dependent to be effective. As believers, our strength does not come from us, but from our creator.

If we are not actively pursuing God in our personal life, we can accomplish nothing.

Spending time in the word, praying daily, and worship allow us to recharge when we lose strength. God allows us to find peace when life starts moving so fast, he provides us with all we need to be an effective leader in our lives. Without him, we are weak, but with him we are strong. He provides rest to us who are weary.

Now you may be thinking, “What exactly is rest?” Why I’m glad you asked, rest is a gift from God that comes in many forms. Sleep is a natural gift from God, and that’s incredibly important. Time with family is rest, these people are the closet in your life, and they know you and give you advice during the hardest times. One of the biggest ways we find rest is by doing the things we love, our passions and hobbies allow us to step back and find rest in the chaos of life.

For me, I enjoy writing, listening to music, drawing, and watching movies. These help me find rest, even when I may not have endless hours to devote to these. Even being able to spend a small bit of time doing these, I am able to have true rest and hear God speak to me. Your life may look different and you may have radically different interests, but whatever you are passionate about, find rest in pursuing them.

Life is crazy, I don’t think anyone will deny that, but we don’t go through it alone. Evaluate your priorities, remain in God’s presence, and pursue your passions. You will find rest in the chaos, the growth, and the unknown. God gives you the rest to carry on.

-Joshua Thomas