Have you ever done something you wish you could take back? Made a comment, did a thing, chose one option over another? It’s a pretty crummy feeling, what’s worse is that most of the time, we could have changed the consequence by our original choice. I love working in children’s ministry, and one of the main points we talk about is that we need to make the wise choice. But, how exactly do we make the “wise choice?” Sure, some options are easier to see, like, if I need to be up at 5, I probably shouldn’t get to bed at midnight if I want to be alert the next day. Pretty straight forward, but what about the other choices in our lives. Relationships, jobs, living situations, what we spend our time doing; the list goes on and on. It would be easy to say, just do what the bible says, and wash my hands with this question, but the reality is, the bible doesn’t say anything about if you should move or if you should pursue a relationship. Or does it?
I love failure. Now I don’t love the feelings that come with it, the rejection, the pain, the heartache; but I love failure. It’s something that I’ve experienced a lot of throughout my life. In high school I failed Spanish class. It was a humiliating moment, I had to repeat the class and every day sat in with students who were younger than me. It was a humbling moment, I felt like a screw up, but God taught me perseverance. I applied to colleges, and every school I applied to declined or waitlisted me. I remember sitting on the floor screaming out until my voice went hoarse. Failure hurts, but failure is good. We don’t learn the oven is truly hot until we touch it by accident. Failure is the greatest tool, because failure allows us to re-think what was done. One of my favorite quotes is by writer, Grant Morrison:
“It’s good to mess up! Sometimes when you mess up, you find new things and new ways to work.”
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!”
- Philippians 4:4
Well, Thanksgiving is almost here. In a few short days, the kids will be out of school, family will get together, and a feast will be had. It’s always a great time, but before you take that nap and then head out for your black Friday hunt (May the odds be in your favor, dear soul), take a step back and look at your life. One thing that this time of the year allows me to do is to think back on my past. Sure there are parts that I’d rather not dwell on, and I believe it is not good to dwell on the past for too long, but what I am saying is look at the blessings you have been given. The good, the bad, and ugly; all of these are in our past, but there’s something about it. Our past is a picture of how God has moved. Every choice made, every bad day, every question has all lead you to where you are in the here and now. I think that’s beautiful. We have been blessed so much, so we should rejoice in all things.
Everyone has a yearning for something greater, we all have been given a drive to leave our mark on this world. I think about this a lot, like a lot a lot (too many lots?). I know I’m not the only one whose mind is drawn to be something greater, because I know that God made us to be more than where we are. There is a problem that can come up, we look to the wrong things to pursue. Isn’t that the terrible truth, we want to find our passion and purpose, but we lose sight of the path that God has placed us on. While thinking about this, I began to watch one of the greatest movies of all time, Star Wars. The movie is filled with great truths that can be applied many ways, but one theme jumped out to me that had never before. Our main character Luke, in the beginning is a simple farm boy on a distant planet, and later becomes the warrior that he was called to be to bring peace and justice. That’s a pretty great calling, we all want to become great, to save others and bring peace to those around us, but Luke didn’t want to do this. The first time we see Luke, it is apparent to see that he doesn’t want to be a farmer, he wants to be a pilot. Not a bad passion to pursue, but when we see the old Ben Kenobi, he tells Luke that he was made for so much more. Like all of us, Luke is so focused on what he wants, that he almost misses his true purpose. Now I know some of you may have glazed over while I was talking about this amazing movie, but the fact is, the movie reveals something that we all fight.
We all have an enemy actively working against us (See previous post for more on that topic), but we also fight ourselves. So often this thing called pride jumps in our way when we ask God what he wants of us. We begin to idolize our pursuits. This could be the pursuit of a job that may make you more money, but take away your influence and doing what you enjoy. It could also mean pursuing an unhealthy relationship when you really should know better, our idolizing the idea of needing a relationship to be complete. This could be a pursuit of earthly pleasure rather than seeking God for our joy. We begin to believe that our way is better, that maybe this is what God wants me to do. We stop listening to the Ben Kenobi’s in our life that have gone before us and have wisdom we can’t even imagine. Pride makes us want to be a space pilot rather than a hero of the universe. Today I want to talk about some ways that God has taught me to fight against pride, and these are things that I still have to actively press into, because none of us are perfect. I want to help you to find what God has for you rather than your own plans, because God has given me a greater vision for my own life.
It’s not about us.
This is the first thing we need to understand in order to step into purpose. God made you with a specific purpose to be a beautiful man and woman after his image, but you are not the most important person in the world. My mom used to say to my sister and I, “The world doesn’t revolve around you.” Now twelve year old Joshua would get mad, but it’s true, and it’s something the bible says very clearly. Galatians 6:3 says, “For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” Now don’t feel depressed and think that you don’t have a purpose, that’s another lie. The truth is, in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” You play an important role for the kingdom, you were designed from the start for something big. It’s not about us, because it is about Jesus. Once we live into that truth, we are on our way to beating pride.
Humility Brings wisdom.
What we just learned is the basis for living a humble life. Pride hurts us and causes us to be foolish, but when we live in humility, we gain wisdom. Proverbs 11:2 says, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble comes wisdom.” Wisdom is such an important virtue to apply to your life. When we are living wisely, each decision we make is looked at through a different lens, we choose what will help and what will hurt. So when we live wisely, we think about how that new career will change us, or that maybe this relationship shouldn’t go any further, wisdom reveals what God wants for us, rather than blindly following what we think we know. We get wisdom from God’s word. That’s the reason we have the bible and the reason why people say you should read it, because it is so important for your life! Wisdom comes from the understanding of what God freely gives. Be humble and let God speak.
Listen to wise people.
This is the last piece of the arsenal to combat pride. God has placed people in your life strategically to help you make the best choices. Even in wisdom and humility, it can get hard to see if what you begin to pursue, really is the place for you. When you find yourself in situations like this, stop, look around you, and ask. Everyone, no matter how perfect they may seem, has someone they go to talk about ideas with and ask for help. Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of the fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.” In Star Wars, Luke chose to follow his true path and he had Ben Kenobi train him. In any movie, book, or important person in life, all of them have a mentor. Finding one may seem daunting, but trust me when I tell you it will be the best thing you could ever do. Over and over again I find myself in situations where I don’t know what to do, or why the world feels like it’s crashing down around me. In those moments I know I can talk to my mentor, and even if they don’t know the answer, they always join me in prayer to fight against the things I am facing. We are warriors, we all need sensei’s.
The world is big and filled with unknowns. We are all made for so much more, God designed each and every one of us to do great things. You may feel like you don’t know where you’re headed or if where you’re going is where you know you should be. Don’t fear the unknown, trust on the one thing you can know is constant through all things. You have a destiny that will play a part in things you can’t even imagine. You will influence people in ways you may have never even fathomed, and you may not see the effect of what you have done. Take heart, God will use you, because he made you to be exactly who you are. I know for me it’s hard to believe that you were made for a purpose, because I have had to face adversity and people telling me I’m not good enough or strong enough to do anything important. This is the biggest lie, and if anyone says something like that to you, know this: You are special, you can do all things, you are important, and you are unique. No matter how many people would say things that cut like a sword, and sometimes still do, my family always reminded me that God made me. When you live into your royalty of Christ, no one can ever stop you from achieving your destiny. So be unique, be different, be who God made you to be.
Your destiny awaits.