Some things I learned this past year:
• The importance of empathy cannot be overstated. Uncaring cold-heartedness, bullying and generally being a shithead can be cured in part by putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.
• We all inherit good things and bad things from our parents. We should be thankful for the good things but never use inheritance as an excuse to indulge in the bad things. Our vices and mistakes are ours no matter where we learned them from, and we make the choice to stay that way or change. Some of the finest people I’ve met grew up in broken homes, they made the choice to be different.
• Responsibilities are a great cure to shyness or low self-confidence.
• Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, it’s a cliche but it’s the only way you’ll learn. Plus being paralysed by the fear of making mistakes will stop you from getting things done.
• The best bosses are the ones who make you want to work hard because they work hard.
• It takes a great heart to be honest and admit weakness. But you’ll need to be wise about who you open yourself up to.
• “I don’t know” is a perfectly acceptable answer. Don’t be afraid to say it.
• So is “Sorry, but no.” Especially when it comes to serving in church. If you don’t want to serve, don’t.
• Entrusting things to God is underrated. It’s true that we all have to work hard and put effort into getting what we want, and often faith and works go hand in hand. But there are many things I’ve found where the best way to exercise faith is to leave it alone and let God handle it.
• Do bold, risk-taking things while you’re young. When you’re a bit older your health will be a hindrance.
• Righteousness cannot be coerced or legislated. It must come from the heart. No one can be forced into becoming a Christian or living the Christian life.
• Surface goodness is not goodness. You’re not being a good man if you call to ask someone how he’s doing and then whine about him the second you hang up.
• The things of the spirit are a necessary starting point, but they have to be paired with practical things too. Say when finding jobs, prayer is a necessary starting point but so is the practical act of doing something about it. Or when tackling an addiction, looking at spiritual and heart causes and praying about them are a necessary starting point, but you can’t neglect practical steps to fighting addiction.
• Character can be seen through the things someone does. But often those things that you see being done are not the whole picture, or even close to it.
• “Yeah, well I’m not Jesus, alright?” is not an acceptable answer. Because if you think about it you kind of are. All Christians are. We are woefully inadequate versions of Jesus, but through our adoption into God’s family, through our membership of Christ’s body and through the Holy Spirit that lives in us, we all are Jesus. Granted there are some things about Jesus that we just can’t do – such as being perfect and sinless, loving God perfectly, or dying for the sins of others – and Jesus is still our King, but throughout the gospels Jesus tells us again and again to live and do exactly as he did.
• “Yeah, well at least I don’t…” is legalism.
• It’s a great place to be when you can honestly say to yourself, “life would be pretty rotten if I were not allowed to think and talk about Jesus.”
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