This past Sunday evening I returned from a five-day high school church conference in Grand Rapids, MI. I went to CDYC, a Missionary Church conference, with my home church as one of their leaders.
Apparently when you wear the exact same t-shirt as a group of high school students, combined with athletic shorts, it transforms you into looking like a high schooler (at least that’s what I’ve been telling myself).
“Where’s your coach?” I heard this question a couple of times from referees while overseeing a volleyball team. “What grade are you in?” I heard this question from some students (thankfully from students not in the youth group I came with). It’s better to look younger than older anyway, right?
Despite the age issue, CDYC this year was a fantastic experience. The theme was “free” and referenced Galatians 5:1— “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
The speaker, Hank Fortener, made some excellent comments on the subject of freedom and related matters.
In one session that stood out to me, Hank referred to Matthew 25: 14-30. This section of scripture, the Parable of the Talents, points out that God expects you to use your life and the talents and abilities He gave you. He expects you to do this, but you have the freedom to choose. You have the freedom, the choice to live a big life. Hank then went on to describe some things that take away your power to choose.
Fear takes away the power in our lives. And fear is the most dangerous when it looks like wisdom. Let’s say you are in the process of job hunting. You interview and are offered a position at a company five hours away from any family members. You are afraid of the distance, but use “wisdom” to say it’s not wise to move away from the help family provides. The Lord did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of courage.
Envy steals the power in our lives. It betrays everything God gave you. And envy is the most dangerous when it looks like passion. For example, “passion” could lead you to work hard at your job in an attempt to earn a promotion and higher salary. With this money you would then be able to purchase a car just as nice as your friend’s. Or maybe with this money you strain to live a lifestyle worthy of others’ envy.
Excuses drain us of our God-given power. Excuses say other things are more powerful than us. And excuses are the most dangerous when they look like humility. One example, sticking with the job theme, is saying you aren’t qualified for an open position and decide not to apply for a job. God gives us talents and abilities. He wants us to work hard and be confident in the person we are and will be in Him. To say we’re not good enough also says we doubt God in the way He created us. There are no excuses on how God empowered you to live your life.
The most spiritual thing we can do is choose. God allows you to choose freedom and He gave you the directive to go on, to move, to choose life.
Be a person who lives free and fights for the freedom of others.
There is so much I am taking away from this CDYC’s speaker, students, other group leaders—and also to be more intentional to open a conversation stating my age.