Friday, November 12, 2010

I Believe in You

This week has been full of unexpected lessons for me.

The most prominent has been the realization of the power of the words, "I Believe in You." pastor Craig Groeschel taught a series called I Believe in You recently and I listened to it on my way to work this week. The big idea of the series is that we all need to be involved in mentoring relationships. We all need to have mentors and we all need to be mentors. That's how Jesus modeled discipleship during his time on earth.

I've been a big believer in mentoring for a long time. Ever since someone said, "I believe in you," to me in high school it was clear to me that mentoring relationships are incredibly powerful and effective.

I had several mentors growing up, but the one that sticks out most to me is Jeff Komins. I wish he had a blog, or even a Facebook page so you could go there and learn a bit more about him. Jeff went to the same church as me when I was younger and I always looked up to him (even when I got taller than him). He was a great athlete (walked on to the Purdue football team) and that was all I needed in those days to have respect and admiration for someone. He was a little guy, but always put 110% effort into everything he did.

It took awhile for me to be able to establish a relationship with Jeff. You see, I had a bad attitude as a young teenager and was too cocky to realize I needed mentors in my life. I thought I had it all figured out and could handle things just fine on my own.

As I got older and wasn't having the success I had hoped for in sports, I started looking for ways to get better, get bigger and give myself a better chance to succeed at sports (basketball in particular). During the summer between my junior and senior years of high school, Jeff invited me to join him 2-3 times a week at his house to lift weights. I was hesitant at first because even though Jeff was not very tall, he had plenty of muscle. Plus, the way he approached everything with a great intensity was a little intimidating.

I got over my insecurities and took Jeff up on his offer and that summer turned out to be one of the best of my life. Not only did I get a lot stronger and put on muscle weight in preparation for basketball season, I learned an incredible amount about life from Jeff. He was a great example of a loving husband and father, a man striving to be more like Jesus every day and a sports enthusiast who thought it was important to stay in shape and keep yourself healthy.

Jeff and I would lift weights hard for an hour, drink a pitcher of sweet tea and play one-on-one basketball in his driveway. I spent many of my nights that summer at his house and I never once felt like I was imposing or unwelcome.

That relationship is exactly what I think of as the ideal mentoring relationship. An older guy invited a younger guy into his life, his home, and just spent time with him - sharing some insight along the way. I don't know if Jeff ever spoke these words to me, but he definitely said, "I Believe in You," in many different ways.

When I heard the series from Craig Groeschel I decided to share it with my Small Group of Sophomore guys at church. I wanted them to know that I believe in them and that they also need to find younger guys to invest in. Sure, I'm biased, but my Small Group is full of young guys with incredible potential for leadership. They are talented, funny, smart. But here's the thing - it's not because of their potential or their gifts that I believe in them, it's because God believes in them. He created them each with a purpose and all the abilities they need to carry out that purpose. He's done that in each one of us.

Reading the Bible and praying will reveal God's purpose and design for your life, but sometimes we humans need another human to affirm it. Sometimes we just need someone who is willing to spend time with us, encourage us, teach us, advise us, kick us in the butt, push us and pray for us. We are all called to do that.

So, find a mentor! Find someone to take under your wing and be his/her mentor!

It's part of your purpose in this life. It's part of why God created you!

Monday, November 1, 2010

My Thoughts on Halloween

Well, Jon Acuff said I had to do it, so here it goes:

I don't know what I think.

Yep, that's where I stand.

Honestly, I never thought this would be an issue for me but having kids changes things. We've never celebrated Halloween with our kids, who are now 8 and 6, but this year has been a whole new ballgame.

Not only are they old enough now to see/read/hear things about Halloween and start asking questions, but this year we live in a neighborhood for the first time in their lives. We actually lived in a neighborhood for the first 3 years of my daughter's life, but she was obviously too young to care about Halloween at that time.

So, this year they had the chance to see kids out and about trick-or-treating, young and old alike dressed up in all kinds of costumes and all taking home loads of candy. I think the candy part is what they really want, but they had plenty of questions for us this year. They wanted to know why we don't celebrate Halloween.

For us, it's simple. We don't like the holiday and what it stands for. But explaining that to them in a way that makes sense is difficult.

My best reasoning goes something like this:

Halloween is a day when people celebrate death, but we want to celebrate the life we have in Jesus.

Now I know not everyone views Halloween this way, but I'm pretty sure that's how the holiday started, right?

And, the older I get, the more sensitive I find myself to things that may be beyond our senses (angels and demons). Those are the things I don't like about Halloween. It seems like evil spirits, scary monsters and dead things are glorified on Halloween.

It's easy to change your family celebration of Halloween and make it about other things than death, but then shouldn't it look different too? I think celebrating the Harvest season is a great idea. But then that's kind of what Thanksgiving is for, right?

If it's all about letting kids dress up and go ask people for candy, doesn't that seem kind of strange? My kids play dress up all the time and they get candy from time to time, so those aren't good enough reasons to start celebrating Halloween.

The one issue we came across this year that made it a little difficult to hold fast to our stance against Halloween is when people come to your door for trick-or-treating. We just moved into the neighborhood in May and we've gotten to know a few of the neighbors, but there are still a lot that we don't know. Part of what we feel is our purpose and why God has placed us in our current home is to reach out to the people around us. So, the last thing we want to do is turn people away when they come to our door. And we also don't want them to think we're sitting in our house judging them for taking part in something we disapprove of.

So, we got some suckers and let our kids hand them out to any trick-or-treaters that came to the house. We didn't know how else to handle it, and our kids had a great time doing it. But, there was still this feeling of uneasiness with the whole thing for me.

So, like I said, I don't really know what I think. I can come up with all kinds of reasons to not participate in Halloween. I can't really think of anything good we are missing out on by not participating. I guess that makes it pretty clear. I just want to be able to explain it to my kids more clearly!