CLERGY CORNER: Three ways your graduate can live a life worthy of their calling

Posted on 08 June 2017 by LeslieM

A study was conducted to measure the resiliency of young students. Researchers were curious to learn how a child would respond to increasingly difficult tasks based upon whether the child’s behavior or innate ability is praised.

Children who were praised for their innate ability, such as affirming that they did well because they are smart, bore unexpected results: This common method of encouragement actually caused many children to shy away from more difficult tasks. Since the value was placed on “being smart,” they skipped on more challenging tasks because they didn’t know if they were capable; so why risk it by trying something and possibly failing and losing the status of being “smart.”

Conversely, children who had their behavior praised yielded opposite results. Many in this participating group welcomed the next challenge. They had nothing to prove, or more accurately, to lose. If they failed, it wasn’t attached to their personhood — their capability. Instead of believing they weren’t smart enough, they believed with more effort they could be successful.

Here’s the thing: God says to commit our plans to Him, so bending to His will not (try) to force God to bend to ours. And we’re also challenged to live a life worthy of our calling. Both these things present us with real challenges and dangers. Yet, this group of graduates has grown up in a world where everyone from first place to last receives a trophy; expectations such as driving or having a summer job have diminished and failure is the worst possible thing, ever! In essence, we constantly affirm, “You are special and you deserve to be treated like royalty.”

Yet, at the same time, we struggle to grasp why a staggering percentage of graduates leave the church … why so few commit to their decision to follow Jesus that they made at age 7.

The root of the issue is identity. The call to follow Jesus is the exact opposite of what they’ve been taught to believe about themselves. We’ve missed the opportunity to pour into them that they have a God that created them, cares for them, adopted them and will never leave them. This message has been replaced with participation ribbons.

But, it’s not too late. God is a patient and loving God who desires all to come to Him. We need not to lose hope, but cling to it.

Here are three things your graduate can do to live the life worthy of their calling.

1. Allow your graduate to experience failure. They have been protected from the discomfort of failure and now are woefully unprepared not only for the real world, but God’s call. This summer is the perfect time for graduates to experience failure and recognize it’s not that bad. Learning how to fail is essential to trying what’s destined to fail without divine intervention, but they’ll never know all that God has for them if they are too scared to try.

2. Help your graduate commit their plans to the Lord. Set aside some intentional time with your graduate to study the Word. Stop asking them what they want to be or where they want to go to college. Challenge them to discover how God has specifically gifted them, in this given context, to live wholly for God and then seek His guidance for the best course to fulfill that role.

3. Remind your graduates of their identity in Christ. Teachers, coaches, mentors, etc., are important figures in your graduates’ life; but, if you value worldly identities: status, power, image and wealth identity, the efforts of the others’ voices will quickly be drowned out. Whether wealthy or not, or somewhere in the middle, don’t miss the opportunity to teach on identity and stewardship.

Join me in praying for your graduates, that they shake off any identities keeping them from following God’s risky and challenging plan for their life; that they allow the Spirit to remind them; that they are fearfully and wonderfully made, a child of His, able to do all things through Christ who straightens them.

C.J. Wetzler is the NextGen pastor at The Church at Deerfield Beach. Before transitioning into full-time ministry, CJ was a commercial airline captain and high school leadership and science teacher. For questions or comments he can be reached at cj@dfb.church.

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