One of my best-friends, Jake Weakland, constantly refers to digging deep into the Word of God and life in general for gold-nuggets (or truths). It’s easy to discover minor, on-the-surface, truths, such as “Jesus is good”, but when something that simple manages to make the 18-inch journey from one’s head to heart, it makes all the difference and usually leads to other, deeper, lessons that facilitate exponential maturity. On Friday, February 8th, 2013, I turned 23 years of age and figured it would be fun to share with you, my readers and friends, some of the life-lessons and gold-nuggets that I have learned along the way. It is my hope that perhaps you will be able to learn some of the harder lessons via me and the Word of God, without having to “learn the hard way”, as my parents would say. Without further delay, allow me to share with you what my “15 Gold-Nuggets” are…
- Grace is the greatest motivator: Mankind’s natural vehicle of motivation appears to be fear. Consider the many tyrannical governments of history that used fear to conjure up a need for a strong, military-state. In the same way, many often seek to motivate their peers via fear. While often effective, I would argue that grace blows people away and is a far greater, more fruitful method of motivation toward righteous living. Give it a try.
- Peace is found in Christ: Simple enough, right? Find peace in Christ, we get it, Justin. Are you sure, though? For years, I have been guilty of constantly clawing at the walls of life, seeking out any sort of foothold that would bring me the greatest security. I can tell you that, without-a-doubt, Christ is the only source of true peace. The sooner you accept this reality and seek it out in Him, the sooner you can become a “person of peace” that others will love being around.
- Unconditional love shatters expectations: Truly a rarity in our modern-day, me-centered culture, unconditional love breaks down walls that many perhaps never knew existed between them and others. When one is able to truly, sacrificially, wholeheartedly love another, without expecting anything in return, everything changes. Relationships rooted in this deep, Christ-like love will outlast any others and certainly be life-giving, rather than life-taking.
- Speak life, not death: Quite simply, words matter. You would not believe the impact that the things you say throughout the day has on those you interact with! The hearts of men and women are more fragile than we like to admit. One can attempt to hide behind a veil of toughness all they like, but the reality is that we all need a little more encouragement and less discouragement. You’d be amazed what a simple, honest, compliment will do to bring life to someone’s eyes and a joyous spirit for the remainder of their day.
- Family Matters: No, not the TV show. Although, it was certainly one of my favorites to watch during my childhood in the 90’s! If a man cannot manage his own household, then how is he to tend to the responsibilities of managing a business, or more importantly, the spiritual household of God, The Church?
- Giving is receiving: I’ll be honest, I have light-years of growth left in this area. But, truly, giving is receiving. There is so much joy to be had in giving of yourself and your resources to others in need. Selfishness and the hoarding of your wealth, whether monetary, physical, or education will lead you nowhere fast. A recent tweet from Lecrae (@lecrae), recent Grammy winner for “Best Gospel Album”, said, “Money cannot purchase joy. It buys temporary distractions.” Therefore, do not buy temporary distractions, but use your resources to purposefully serve others’ needs. Live life on purpose.
- Lust leads nowhere: It’s the unavoidable topic at every Christian conference you will ever attend, has given birth to numerous ministries, and broken more households than the number of sand-grains on the seashore, lust and the various avenues associated with it, such as the multi-billion-dollar porn industry, leads nowhere. Well, more accurately, it leads to death. Seriously, seek the counsel of someone older, dig into the Scriptures, take drastic measures, do whatever it takes to rid yourself of this poison. You will never be satisfied by it and will always want more. Your future spouse will be ever-so-grateful that you recommitted your mind and heart to purity, that you may fully love them. I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer my future wife were not comparing me to the men she’s read about in Fifty Shades of Grey, or viewed on some illicit website. I’m sure you’d likely feel the same way.
- Talk to strangers: If you’re reading this, then you are likely an adult and have the mental capacity to make decent, logical, decisions, therefore I do not feel the need to defend my statement. However, I will support it. People LOVE talking about themselves. A little, legitimate curiosity can go a long to way to creating deep, life-changing friendships. We were created to be relational creatures. It’s time that we took the earphones out every now and then and blessed others by letting them know that someone cares who they are and how they are doing.
- There is healing: Every person that you have ever met has dealt with some aspect of brokenness. It does not matter if it is an addiction, a flaw in character, or quirky personality-trait that can get out-of-hand at times, there is healing to be found in The Savior, Jesus Christ. Guilt and shame do not have to be your shackles of imprisonment for life. Seek the One whom can break all chains and gently heal every aspect of our dark hearts, bringing light that overtakes any hint of darkness.
- Light wins, darkness dies: Transparency is essential to the body of Christ functioning properly. Bands of brothers and sisters in Christ need to live out their lives authentically, shining light upon the deeper aspects of their character and hearts. If not, darkness allows the opportunity for sin to grow like a cancer that makes its’ way into every aspect of our lives, and will surely lead to death. However, the opposite is true if our lives remain in the light. A great friend and mentor of mine throughout the years, Chris Halvorson, would advise that we always seek to “live above reproach.” Living in the light among our fellow brothers and sisters in the church leads to victory in the name of Christ.
- Spiritual leadership is being a servant: Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve. He set before us the prime-example of how to lead others in living our lives like Him. We are to serve others, considering them greater than ourselves for the benefit of the Kingdom of God. A spiritual leader is not insecure and does not feel the need to pull rank and age every time something does not go his/her way, but knows how to graciously allow love to cover over a multitude of wrongdoings and has a wellspring of patience for the sinner that could only be found in the fruit of the Spirit. Praise God for the many spiritual leaders in our lives.
- Real men cherish women: There is no man weaker than one that finds his strength in overpowering a woman, whether by brute, physical force, or by the sharp, double-edged sword of his tongue. Real men learn to build up the women around them, considering them to be beautiful blessings to learn from, fellowship with, and praise the LORD for their many alluring qualities, such as gentleness, compassion, empathy, and a deep relational capacity that contribute so much to a healthy church/family.
- Real women respect men: From the day that a man is born, one of his core, inner-desires is to earn the respect of those around them, especially the women in their lives. The excellent women that I know respect their husbands, brothers, and adult-sons, as they learn to embrace the responsibility of leadership. Weaker women seek out ways to manipulate and control men, demeaning their ability to effectively lead, and leaving them feeling inadequate.
- Discipleship facilitates exponential growth: Jesus always led by example. It would appear that according to Him and early church-leaders like Paul that discipleship-relationships are the most fruitful method for the Gospel to spread and take root in the lives of others. Cold-turkey evangelism has its’ time and place, but there is nothing more effective and life-changing than living life-on-life with others. Speaking from experience, there is so much to be gained from being mentored by someone older in the faith AND from watching over and prayerfully shepherding the younger faith of another.
- There is always something new to learn: The day that we stop learning is the day that we stop truly living. There is so much left in the world to be learned about our relationships with Christ, the best-practices in terms of relating to, and serving, others, and education-wise. “Leaders are readers” would fit extremely well here. To assume that you already know all that there is to know is dangerous arrogance. A spirit of humility and willingness to be taught will get you much further in life.
Obviously, I’m a very outspoken individual and could write far more, but I realize that our culture is better-suited to smaller doses of information, so I’ve already written more than you are likely to read, or mentally digest. I hope that these “15 Gold-Nuggets” serve to bless you with new-found wisdom, or to remind you of biblical concepts that will lead to righteous living and the continued pursuit of holiness, and I pray that the Spirit blesses you with understanding and better-yet, the discipline for your actions to validate agreement with these words. The same goes for me, of course, too.
Written by Justin Meyer, a senior in communication studies at Kansas State University.