13 Ways to Rise Above Low Expectations in Your Youth
- Whitney Hopler Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2014 17 Dec
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Trip Lee’s new book Rise: Get Up and Live in God’s Great Story (Thomas Nelson, 2015).
How are you spending your youth? Are you sleeping in late, looking for fun but feeling confused, and bouncing around from one odd job and casual relationship to another? Or are you getting up each day determined to go on whatever new adventure God has for you, no matter much commitment and responsibility that involves?
Our culture sets low expectations for young people. But God wants the best for you – and that involves raising your expectations so you can live how God created you to live. You don’t have to wait until you get older to live to the fullest for God. You can (and should) start doing so now, while you’re young. Here’s how:
Embrace your role in God’s story and rise to your calling. God has given you a unique and important role to play in the great story of redemption that he is writing in the world. Don’t waste the early chapters of your life on the wrong story. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you start discovering and fulfilling God’s purposes for your life so you can live in the right story right now. Place your relationship with God at the center of your life, revolving everything else around your top priority of pursuing God.
Approach your life from an eternal perspective. Rather than using your time and energy on what doesn’t really matter, focus your attention on what has eternal value and impact. Pray for the wisdom you need to discern how best to invest your time and energy to accomplish what God wants you to do. Be willing to sacrifice pursuits that are enjoyable in the moment but don’t have any lasting value so you can maximize your contributions to God’s kingdom. Think carefully about how you can spend every moment of your life pursuing what truly matters most: loving God and loving people.
Don’t be intimidated by all the learning and growth you still have to do. Even though you’re not as mature as older believers, you can still participate fully in God’s plans for your life right now. God will empower you to learn and grow in all the ways he wants you to, if you simply trust him and follow his guidance day by day.
Get to know the Bible well. Read the Bible regularly to develop an accurate concept of who God is and how he wants you to live. Study the Bible, meditate on it, and apply its principles to every part of your life.
Participate in a church community. Get involved in a local church where you can grow spiritually, build friendships with other believers, and serve people in need.
Confess and repent of your sins regularly. Rather than trying to hide your sins from God and other people, be honest about them. Let God’s unconditional love for you motivate you to stop pretending to be perfect. Regularly confess your sins and turn away from them so you can keep growing spiritually.
Embrace God’s design for sex. Rise above our fallen world’s low view of sex as simply an enjoyable act that’s an end in itself. Since sex is actually a physical expression of a profound spiritual reality – the intimate love and joy that believers will experience when they’re united with Jesus in heaven – it’s important to take God’s design for sex seriously. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you maintain sexual purity, including avoiding pornography and guarding your heart in dating relationships. If you’re dating someone who would make an excellent spouse and God is leading you to commit to that person; don’t hesitate to get married young and start your lives together.
Receive wisdom from older believers. Humbly realize that you can learn a lot of valuable lessons from Christians who have lived longer than you have so far. Observe their lives, listen to them, and seek out their wisdom by asking them questions that will help you grow closer to Jesus.
Embrace media that leads you closer to Jesus, and reject media that leads you away from Jesus. Think critically about the media that you watch and listen to, such as: music, television, movies, video games, social media, and magazines. Carefully consider what messages they’re presenting to you, and how those messages either do or don’t line up with biblical truth. Focus on media that presents accurate, positive messages, and don’t waste your time on other media.
Respond to trials in ways that will make you stronger. Don’t fall victim to the myth that you’re invincible because you’re young. Jesus warned that everyone will experience trials in this fallen world. When trials come your way, choose to trust Jesus to guide you through them. Keep in mind that trials are valuable to your spiritual growth because they can: make you depend on Jesus, make you more like Jesus, and make you long to be with Jesus.
Be an example of what a Christian should look like to spiritually seeking people. Too often, people who are seeking to learn more about God are turned off by Christians who behave in hypocritical ways. Don’t fuel negative impressions of Christians as mean, stubborn, irrational, judgmental, self-righteous people. Instead, show seekers what real Christianity looks like. Aim to be a Christian who admits your sin, trusts Jesus in every situation, and loves people.
Be faithful in ordinary tasks, with confidence that everything you do for God is important. Go beyond naïve zeal that only gets excited about extraordinary tasks like going on a mission trip. Do your best to serve God with every ordinary task in your life, and in the process, God’s power will work through you to accomplish something important.
Show people compassion by loving them in tangible ways and sharing the Gospel message with them. Reach out regularly and intentionally to the people you know who are in need. Show them Jesus’ love in action by praying for them and meeting their needs in practical ways – while taking every opportunity to tell them the reason for the hope that you have in Jesus and encouraging them to start their own relationships with him.
Adapted from Rise: Get Up and Live in God’s Great Story, copyright 2015 by William Lee Barefield, III (“Trip Lee”). Published by Nelson Books, an imprint of Thomas Nelson, Nashville, Tn., www.thomasnelson.com.
Trip Lee is an author, hip-hop artist, pastor, and thought leader. He regularly preaches and teaches at Christian conferences and events and has performed his music for thousands of listeners around the world. As a critically acclaimed hip-hop artist, Trip has won a Stellar Award and has been nominated for several Dove awards. His latest album is Rise. He and Jessica, his wife of five years, have two young children. Learn more by visiting his website.
Whitney Hopler, who has served as a Crosswalk.com contributing writer for many years, produces a site about angels and miracles for About.com. She is author of the inspirational novel Dream Factory (which is set during Hollywood's golden age) and writes about the power of thoughts on her “Renewing Your Mind” blog.
Publication date: December 17, 2014