10 years of life will teach you a lot. I recently turned 30 and have been reflecting upon what I wish I could tell 20-year old me.
There is something holy about sitting down with an empty notebook and asking the question,
“What has or should have influenced the past decade of my life?”
As they say, hindsight is 20/20, but usually, the deepest truths that end up defining your life are the ones you’ve seen play out time and time again.
Like most people, you likely wrestle with living out the most profound truths you believe in, and if you are like me, you probably want the results of a changed life without, well, actually changing much.
After a decade of life, I’ve come to understand that some truths are essential to not only believe, but put into practice consistently.
Today, my hope is these truths not only make it to your head but become buried in your heart, producing lasting fruit for the next decade to come. (Part 1 of a 2 Part Blog Series)
1. Purity will affect everything you do.
Your heart is a wicked place. That is probably difficult to hear. I get it. But you know it’s true. Most of the time our motives aren’t 100% pure. Instead, they are riddled with pride, jealousy, resentment, and a myriad of undiscovered emotions.
But the truth remains that…
The presence of purity will affect everything you do because it influences your heart like nothing else can.
Whatever you allow to fill your heart will direct the course of your life.
A lack of purity will destroy your marriage and friendships. It will obliterate the foundations of trust and intimacy with others. If your heart is filled with selfishness and pride at work, you probably won’t enjoy your coworkers. And this probably doesn’t need to be said but…If you don’t like the people you work with, it says more about your heart than their personality.
Purity has the ability to protect or destroy what you hold most precious.
Though that sounds bleak, I have good news. Jesus can change your heart. If you’re willing. Though your heart can be wicked, it can also be redeemed, renewed, and purified by Christ.
So what’s the answer? Spiritual grit.
Spiritual grit is being unwaveringly determined in allowing the Holy Spirit to consistently grind out the daily impurities of your heart through His word, reflection, accountability, and pursuit of the mission.
Spiritual grit is about having your eyes so focused on Jesus, His ways, and His mission that your desires become His desires.
2. Learning to hear God’s voice takes consistency.
Learning to hear God’s voice will take time, and the consistency with which you seek Jesus will determine your ability to discern His will for your life.
We know this intuitively. As you date your spouse or meet often with a friend, this consistency produces an innate ability to know the other person. You naturally begin to know what the other person desires without them needing to say anything.
Sometimes we believe listening to God’s voice requires supernatural ability or complete understanding of His word to hear from Him, but…Listening to God’s voice has less to do with your ability and more to do with your willingness.
Because if you are willing, you will learn. You will learn to know what your Father would want, instead of needing Him to make demands. This listening is less neon sign and more relational know how. And here’s the cool thing about this…Doing the Father’s will is most beautiful when it’s not demanded.
Learning to hear God’s voice requires consistently hearing and obeying. These two cannot be separated because this combination trains your heart to discern the Holy Spirit’s nudging, guiding, affirming, or rejecting of what you are experiencing.
However, if you learn to sense His voice, but neglect to obey, you actually train your heart to silence God when He speaks. Obedience is your heart’s way of communicating, “God you are welcome here. You are Lord.”
The parallel is in 1 Samuel:3 when young Samuel says, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.” If you want to hear God, you have to determine in advance whether you will listen when He speaks or reject His authority as Lord.
3. Work for the Kingdom, not your calling.
God’s kingdom is bigger than the role you play in it. Unfortunately, there have been times when my eyes have been too focused on what I can give.
I’ve been too focused on what I believe God has “gifted” me to do. Many would reference this as their calling and sometimes we sacrifice what the kingdom needs because we covet a position of authority.
Now to clarify, I believe one of the biggest travesties is not fulfilling your greatest kingdom potential. I’m not saying what you do shouldn’t be evaluated, improved, and even changed. However, I also believe we often demand that the skills we possess be given a title we think we deserve.
I have the ability to preach and teach, so I should be the Preaching or Teaching Pastor.
I have the gift of leadership, so I should be Executive Pastor.
I have knowledge of scripture, the relational know how, the detail oriented mind…. So, I should be in charge.
As leaders, you can get so wrapped up in what you are to become that you miss the significant contribution you are making in the present. You miss the kingdom because you are too focused on your calling.
4. Who you are becoming is your choice.
Your environment impacts who you become, but it doesn’t determine it. You decide what will become of your life. As a Christian, this might sound heretical but stay with me.
God, the creator and author of your life, knows how to live your life better than you do (more of that in the next section).
But because He knows better, your role is to align yourself with what God says is best.
This is your choice.
You decide if you will allow Jesus to take over your heart and direct the course of your life. You decide if you will allow Jesus to change who you are becoming. Christ changes you, but you determine if you will allow Him. You determine if you will allow God to bring good out of every situation. Each day you decide if you will become the person Christ knows you could be with Him at the center.
5. Jesus knows how to live your life better than you do.
Let that sink in for a moment. You don’t know what’s best for you. The decisions you think will bring you the greatest joy and lasting satisfaction might be the most destructive choices you’ll ever make.
I don’t say this to scare you, and hope it doesn’t cause you to compulsively worry about each choice you make. However, I do hope you consider that maybe you aren’t the best pilot for your life.
Most likely you’ve been told to follow your heart. We’ve been told whatever we feel is right is what’s best for us. But here’s the truth…Follow your heart is only good advice if your heart follows Jesus.
Jesus knows what’s best for you because He can see what lies ahead of you. He knows what’s coming and wants to direct you like any loving Father would. Some things will be universally true. Don’t cheat on your spouse, love your neighbor, don’t yearn for what others have, and the list goes on.
But some things aren’t universal. They are unique to you. God might not want you to take that job, date that person, speak at that conference, start that blog….
And you have a choice to either follow your heart or follow Jesus. Sometimes they are aligned, but other times they are in direct opposition. So what’s the answer?
Learn to hear God’s voice by spending consistent time with him. Practice obeying Him when it’s NOT what you want. Train your heart to want what God wants, even when it’s not what you want. Trust that giving Jesus control over your life isn’t simply an act of sacrifice, but the wisest choice in determining what your life will become.