I serve as a small group leader for fifth grade boys Sunday mornings. It’s an absolute blast. One moment you are talking about movies and video games and the next you can have a breakthrough about the bible lesson from the day, then quickly jump back to talking about what random game and toy they currently love. I love being able to do this each week because their brains work similarly to mine, connecting real life to their current obsession; it quickly creates interesting dynamics and fun. Each month we have a life app that we work through, and this month we are talking about confidence: living like you believe what God says is true. I love this idea, not only is it great for elementary kids, but I think as believers we can have this same confidence. I think a lack of confidence in who we are causes us to live into fear and not live into our full potential. We were made with purpose, we are unique creations by a loving creator, so it’s time to be confident in who you are.
One of the things that I believe effects almost every person, something that holds many of us back, is the idea that we know everything. If you just slightly wanted to disagree with me, you’ve just proved my point. We can easily get it in our heads that we are the best, or that we know all there is to know about life, a hobby, or in your work. This is the thing that causes us to get angry when someone disagrees with our opinion or idea. We immediately jump to conclusions, thinking that the person disagreeing just doesn’t like us as a person (Which can totally be possible) or that they think we are somehow less of a human being than they are. It holds us back, causes us to get easily offended, and stop us from growth. So, what can we do to stop believing the world revolves around us? We learn. A simple idea, and one that God wants to help us do in order to pursue our purpose. When you stop and say, “I don’t have all the answers,” you embrace humility and begin a new journey. This idea isn’t a new one, it’s something that Paul in the bible knew and one that he shared with Timothy. Paul writes in 1 Timothy, directly to Timothy as he begins his own ministry. He essentially tells Timothy, we are all sinners, which means we can never add up to the glory of God, but God had mercy on each of us and he showed us the ultimate grace. Once we live with this mindset, we then hold onto truth, seek after true knowledge, and listen to our elders who have walked before us. Paul is telling Timothy that he may not have all the answers, which means he has the capacity to learn and grow his skills.
When I was reading through this, I was reminded of a verse that captures this idea of growing and cultivating our skills. Ecclesiastes 10:10 says, “If the axe is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is required but skill will bring success.” Or another version in the ESV says, “If the iron is blunt, and one does not sharpen the edge, he must use more strength, but wisdom helps one to succeed.” I love the simple example this verse uses, basically if your tool is breaking down, sharpen it. The same is true with our minds, if we feel like we are not learning, search for wisdom and practice your skills. I want to share today about how to press into God and learn from him. I believe that every person was made for a reason, and that every person impacts the world. Don’t sit back and let the opportunities to learn pass you by, take hold, and grow your skills.
You are unique.
When learning a new skill, or cultivating a pre-existing one; you have to know that you are unique. We all have different styles, different ways of processing things, and different ways we see the world. This is a good thing. Can you imagine if everyone were the same? (Actually many authors have in fact, i.e. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley) It would be pretty boring and new ideas would never be created. Grace Hopper captures this idea when she says, “The most dangerous phrase in the English language is ‘we’ve always done it this way.’” This idea kills new ways of approaching things and prevents you and me from trying new things. You are unique, plain and simple. You were designed by a God who created the universe and everything in it. You may be a skilled communicator, or have musical talent unlike anything else, or maybe you have the uncanny ability for comforting those who are hurting. Whatever it may be, you are good at something because you have individuality that God has given you. So discover what that skill is, try new things. The worst that can happen is you aren’t good at it and you move on, not everyone has the bow staff and nun chuck skills like Napoleon Dynamite. You have skills, because God made you, you.
Live a humble life.
So you are talented, and you have super awesome cool skills; but be careful of pride. So many pop culture icons we can see this downfall with, a person with great talent and ability, but believe the world revolves around them. You have to remember that you are not the greatest, you have the skills, but your attitude is what speaks volumes. When we look back at Timothy, he was a young leader in the church, and he was good. Communicated well, led many to Christ, but always had a mentor. He looked to Paul that had experienced so much, I can imagine that there were times when Timothy had an idea and Paul had to say no. When we live without a humble heart, we take offense easily to an elder telling us no. When we live desiring growth and what God wants, we understand when we are told no. At the same time, if you hold a high position, and someone lower on the totem pole has an idea, don’t be offended if it doesn’t match with the way you would do things. We need to always be open to change and criticism, because only then can we grow and improve. Our lives, or careers, and our ministries can benefit from this idea. All too often ideas are shut out because a younger person wants to try new things. Be open, and be willing to listen. When we let go of our hold onto the way it has always been done, can we experience growth. So live humbly, the world will keep going if you stop, press into the new ideas and listen to the voice of God.
Never stop learning.
I love to learn. I used to hate it in school, not understanding why it was important, but there is so much value to learning. We have opportunities all around us to learn new things. Maybe it’s from a coworker, a new book, or from the wonders of YouTube. The purpose of learning is not to have knowledge or the answers for a trivia game, it is to think differently and act on that. I search for new things every chance I get. I read books to be more informed or to find new ideas, I watch TED talks to be informed about the culture and climate of the world I live in, and I listen to Pastors who speak from their heart about the wonder of God. I never want to stop learning from people with great skills. You can learn from everything, even from people that don’t believe the same things you do. One of the biggest tragedies that believers fall into, is that anything not directly tied to God is unimportant. This is so wrong! Spiritual truths come from the Lord, even when it is not presented from a believer. Now you may disagree, but I’m not saying that you should believe all you hear. What I am saying is that God uses everything and everyone to speak to us, and when we are in scripture, we can discern the truths from the fallacies. Don’t close your mind off from new ways of leadership and new ways to look at the world that you live in. Always have the mindset of learning, and never stop growing your mind.
Never sit back and let your skills go to waste. The world we live in needs people like you. People that know they have been made uniquely, people that live humble lives, and people that are always wanting to learn more. Live into the purpose you were made for, take the steps that will move you into your passion. Dream big, listen to the people who have gone before you, and do it with an attitude of bravery. Growing your skills takes time, you may even fail one or two or twenty times to get it right, but you were made for more. You were made with purpose. You influence more people than you can even imagine. Sharpen your mind just like you would a dull axe, because only then will you be effective in your purpose. So be unique, live humbly, and always be learning.
Never hold back from growing your skills.