Why We Need to Stop Serving in the Church

You know it's important to give God the glory when you succeed. But how do you do that when you fail? How does failure reflect God's goodness? Click here to find out!

If you grew up in the church or even have spent a lot of time being connected to a church, you know that it’s important to serve in the church. Whether you helped out in nursery or participated on the Sunday morning worship team, you were encouraged to “get involved”. As a teen, you may have been a VBS leader. As a young adult, you may have helped out with youth ministries or taught Sunday school. You may have run sound for Sunday morning services or helped in the kitchen for the seniors’ luncheon.

We are all called to serve and be served. We are to be each others’ servants and sacrificially commit our time to help others. Every job is important. We’re all members of the Body, and there’s no job too small.

But does serving mean more than volunteering at church?

Don’t get me wrong—serving our churches is important. We need to support the local church. Without a strong local church, there cannot be effective ministry outside of the church.

But I think that sometimes we get so focused on serving within the church that we forget we are also called to serve outside of the church.

Jesus said he came not to be served, but to serve. Have you ever thought about where he served?

Jesus had the knowledge of a great teacher. He had incredible wisdom, even to the point of teaching the older rabbis in the temple when he was twelve years old. If anyone should have been teaching the Jewish people, it was him. They even expected him to be their savior from Roman rule.

However, nowhere in Scripture do we actually see Jesus spending a lot of his time in the temple. Jesus sought out the broken, the lost, and the outcasts and served them. He served outside of the temple. His entire ministry was focused on reaching the people who were considered to be less-than-righteous.

But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. (Matthew 9:12)

Are we spending so much time and energy tending to the healthy that we forget about the sick? Click To Tweet

Please don’t hear what I’m not saying. I’m not saying that it isn’t important to serve within the local church or that we should ignore the needs of those within the church. Again, the local church needs to be strong in order to minister elsewhere.

However, I think we sometimes forget that we are in the church to prepare for outside-church ministry. I grew up in the church. I started volunteering in the nursery when I was eleven, was a leader a kids’ camps for seven years, led the youth worship team, was a coach for my church’s Bible quizzing program, and participated on the Sunday morning worship team. I’ve also helped out at various other church-related events. However, I could probably count on one hand the number of hours I have spent serving outside the four walls of my church. How much time have I spent ministering to people who haven’t met Jesus? If we are to reach the lost, we must be among them.

I’d like to challenge you to step out of your comfort zone and find a way to serve outside the church. To show Jesus to those who haven’t met him. To reach the broken, the sick, the lost.

Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners. (Matthew 9:13)

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What to Do when You Fail

Failure in life is inevitable. No one is perfect, and we will all mess up. The question is, how do you respond to failure? Click here to find out!

This week, I failed a test. A big test. A midterm exam, to be precise. When I say “failed”, I mean actually failed. Not “Oh I failed according to my standards…which is under a 90%”. I got an embarrassingly low mark.

Failing a test is unusual for me. In my three years of college, this is the first exam I’ve failed. I’m an A’s student. All my other midterms went really well. Failure isn’t an option I give myself.

I decided I wasn’t going to have a pity-party for myself. I reminded myself that it didn’t matter in the grand scheme of life, I couldn’t feel sorry for myself, I couldn’t change what had already happened. I “got over it”.

Two days later, I just felt like a failure at life. I was behind in another class, behind in cleaning my apartment (I need to have a clean apartment to basically function), and totally unmotivated to do school. Unmotivated to do life, really.

While walking to the bus stop, I was praying. I’m not exactly sure what I was praying. Pretty much just being sad before God. My heart was crying out for something, even if my mind wasn’t aware of it. Suddenly, God spoke these words to my aching heart: the joy of the LORD is my strength. Yes.

On the day I called, You answered me; my strength of soul you increased. (Psalm 138:3)

Without realizing it, we start to get our strength from other things. I mean, we do our devotions and pray and go about our day. But do we actually daily claim God as the sole source of our strength? When we do well in school, we are motivated to keep going. But what happens when we don’t do well?

I had prayed before that test that God would help me to pass. I had studied and I really cared about this test. But He used my failure to teach me something. I realized that I hadn’t been relying on God fully for my strength. I was getting the strength and motivation to keep going from my successes rather than my Father.

There’s nothing wrong with finding satisfaction in a job well done. But there will be times when you don’t do as well as you want. When that happens, you lose your strength. But God’s strength remains steady despite our circumstances.

The joy of the LORD is my strength. The joy of God is unconditional and cannot be impacted by our circumstances. When we find our strength in His joy, we find that we can have strength through Him and rise above our circumstances.

If you feel like giving up in whatever you’re doing, pause. Take a deep breath. The God of the universe is on your side, and He always will be. His grace is sufficient for you. Your weakness only serves to bring Him glory. When we acknowledge our weaknesses and rely on God for our strength, He is honored and we become more intimate with Him.

The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me; Your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of Your hands. (Psalm 138:8)

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Things Guys Want to Tell Girls

Have you ever wondered what guys REALLY think about drama, your emotions and how they communicate? You may be surprised! Click here to read more.

I think most of us can agree that girls are more emotionally complex than guys. This doesn’t mean that one is better than the other—God made men and women—but we are incredibly different in everything. The way we feel (yes, guys have feelings), think, act and interpret the world around us are very different.

Girls want to feel understood by guys. We need emotional connection, and that means that guys need to be able to understand us. But are we missing something when it comes to relating with guys?

I’m not saying girls need to start following the NHL draft picks or become immensely interested in hunting or start man-grunting like Tim the Tool Man. But I am asking this: how can we expect guys to put in all kinds of effort to understand us when we put no effort into understanding them? Sometimes we expect men to cater to us when we don’t put any effort into speaking their language.

I asked some of the guys in my life what they want girls to know about guys…what they would say if they could say anything to girls without the girls getting mad. Complete honesty.

I told them it could be anything—girls cry too much, guys don’t care about makeup, guys hate drama, etc. The guys I asked are ages 16 – 20 and all have different personalities. These points are the guys’ words, not mine. I might add something after a point, but for the most part, it’s what they themselves wrote.

Guys absolutely hate drama.

One guy put it this way:

We’re more relaxed/laid back, so don’t get upset at us if we don’t care [about drama].”

Another added,

It’s not their job to please other people; not everything is a crisis.

A third guy said,

Yes, guys absolutely hate drama; it drives us crazy! Sometimes a little drama just happens, that’s tolerable…

They aren’t saying that nothing matters. They’re saying that there’s a difference between something serious and something that’s just drama. Sometimes, we tend to overreact to the little things instead of judging if the thing is worth getting worked up over. We need to take a step back and decide if it’s actually a big deal or if we’re making it a big deal.

If you listen to a guy tell a story then listen to a girl tell a story, you’ll notice a big difference. Guys tell exactly what happened—“Jim walked into a wall and then fell down.” Girls tell what happened, plus how they felt, plus how Jim felt, plus how Sally reacted when she told her the story.

Guys are just more factually-based. If you’re explaining every emotion you experienced, they’re probably going to tune out pretty quick. However, if you’re explaining what actually happened instead of what you think happened or what you felt happened, they’re more likely to get what you’re saying.

We still care.

When you are upset, we don’t always understand or notice at first, but we still care.

Us guys don’t care as much as you girls do.

Ladies, guys do care. None of the guys I spoke to said they don’t care about girls. They just said they didn’t care as much or about everything. Girls get emotionally involved in everything that happens; it’s the way we are. Guys don’t invest their emotions into as much as we do; they aren’t wired to have an emotion behind everything.

When it comes to telling guys how we feel, we shouldn’t hide everything from guys or be less than honest about how we’re feeling (saying “I’m fine” when you’re really not isn’t helping. It’s confusing) but we do need to know how to tell guys how we’re feeling in concise, matter-of-fact ways.

Guys don’t try to send subtle signals.

When guys are nice (holding doors open, etc.), they are truly just doing it to be nice…being nice to a lady is often taken for flirting when in reality, I’m just being nice.

When guys ask to hang out, it literally means hang out. Nothing else. Play some cards or the Wii. We just want to have fun and get to know them better, that’s all.

Sometimes, when we like a guy, we try to send signals that suggest to the guy we’re interested—without actually saying we’re interested. Guys don’t do that. If they’re interested, they’ll tell you or make it really obvious. Guys want to be able to be friends with girls without it turning into a “thing” or being accused of liking a girl.

We need to realize that not every guy who wants to be our friend wants to date us, and that’s okay. It’s important to have friendships without any weird pressure to potentially have a relationship. I’ve enjoyed so many great friendships with guys just because I didn’t assume they were interested in me!

We like listening better, but guys want to talk too.

It is easy enough for us to listen to anything you want to talk to us about, but a lot harder for us to reciprocate and talk about ourselves.

Guys want to talk too.

Assuming you’re having a great conversation with a guy and not just dumping emotional junk on him, is it okay to still talk lots? Yes! Talking to guys is not bad. It’s how you talk to them. They like to talk, too. However, don’t expect a guy to be as talkative as you. Some guys are, but most aren’t. It’s a lot easier for a guy to listen to you about how you feel than for him to talk about how he feels.

But when you’re actually in a relationship with a guy, the girl still need some emotional connection—and that doesn’t come from talking about football. So when you want to find out how a guy feels about a certain thing, don’t ask him “How do you feel about this?” Guys often don’t know how they feel because they just don’t analyze their emotional responses the way girls do. But guys can usually tell you their opinion or what they think. Give them a chance to talk! Ask what they think. Listen when they start to talk. If they aren’t comfortable, don’t push it. Guys will talk to girls they feel safe with.

Go with the flow.

Just go with the flow. Not everything needs to be controlled. Nothing drives me crazier than when someone tries to control literally everything. Guys love just going with the flow; maybe making broad plans, but nothing specific.

As a type-A personality firstborn, I like to feel in control of my space and my plans. But a lot of the time, guys don’t have a plan and they’re okay with that. Sometimes we girls need to loosen up a bit and be okay with that too. The world won’t fall apart if you don’t know every detail. Having a plan is a good thing, but sometimes we can get a little too caught up in it.

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Things I Wish I Knew before I Started Dating

Dating can be fun, but there can be tough things too. There's lots to learn and grow from. Click here to read seven things I learned while dating!

I started dating when I was in the last semester of high school. I’ve only dated one guy and I’ve been with him now for just over two and a half years. Since I was pretty naïve when we started dating, I’ve learned a lot about relationships in the last couple years. This isn’t going to be a list of things I completely messed up on, though I have certainly made a lot of mistakes. Rather, these are things that I was surprised to find and thought I was the only one dealing with these issues. I thought I’d take the time to discuss some of the things I wish someone had told me before I started dating.

Christian girls have to deal with temptation too.

Chances are that if you really like a guy, you’re attracted to him, whether that’s physically or not. When I started dating William, I had this preconceived notion that since I was a Christian, I would be kind of “protected” from any temptation. We were a Christian couple focused on Jesus, so temptation wouldn’t touch us.

Ha.

I think that Satan will try even harder to tempt Christians—especially young ones who have lots of hormones. He tempted Jesus, too (Luke 4:1 – 13). Everyone is different, but don’t think that just because you’re both Christians you will be sheltered from temptations. Be prepared that you will face temptation, and be armed with prayer.

Your boyfriend is not your emotional outlet.

So many girls use their boyfriend as their emotional vent. It’s okay to relieve some stress and talk about your day, but sometimes we go overboard. Instead of sharing the facts and directly explaining how we feel, we end up inflating the story as we go along to the point where we’re just “venting”.

Ladies, your man wants to support you. Guys know girls are emotional and they want to help. They’re fixers. But at some point, they shut down. If we are just a landslide of feelings, they can’t understand it all. They aren’t wired the same as us and they can’t sort through all those emotions the same way we can. It’s how God made them. It’s good to talk to our men about how we’re feeling about different things, but we need to do it in guy language. We need to filter it down a bit to be straightforward—share the facts and then how you felt. Guys are great, but save the venting for your girlfriends.

Sexual purity gets harder, not easier.

Real talk here. This was—and is—a huge one for me. It’s one thing to stay pure when you’ve been dating for two months and you’re not a super-affectionate person to begin with. But when you’ve been dating for two years, keeping those boundaries gets really tough.

It’s important to set boundaries before you break them. Whether your parents gave you a curfew or not, set one and stick to it. If you let your rules slide once, it will happen again and again. Just because you’re a Christian couple does not mean you don’t need rules. The sooner you have an honest discussion about your boundaries, the better. Yes, it might be awkward, but that’s so much better than waiting until you’ve already crossed your personal boundaries.

He appreciates it when you take the time to look good.

I am a very no-fuss person when it comes to my appearance. I like to look nice, but I’m all for practicality. Before William and I started dating, I didn’t wear makeup because I couldn’t be bothered. I started wearing more makeup after we started dating but I still mostly only wear it to church or other outings. It’s so tempting to just wear sweats and be comfortable once you’ve been with your guy for a while, but he really does appreciate it when you put in that extra effort for him.

Sometimes my youngest brother will ask me, “Why do you care how you look? You already have a boyfriend.” He has a point in that I’m not trying to attract other guys, but I think William is worth taking the extra time to look good. At the same time, there’s a big difference between feminine and sexy. We want to be valued for our true worth.

He might “get” you, but he can’t read your mind.

You might be with a guy who just “gets” you. He understands you and he can always tell when something’s wrong. Guys who are sensitive to us are real blessings. They are easy to talk to and you don’t always have to explain yourself. They just know.

However, this does not make them mind-readers. There have been times when William knows something’s wrong and asks me about it, and there have been other times when he has no idea. This means I have to tell him. And I need to be honest and straightforward and loving in the way I’m telling him, not manipulative and demanding.

Having a boyfriend does not mean you will never notice another guy.

If you think having a boyfriend is going to protect you from ever being attracted to another guy, I have bad news for you. You don’t just shut off physical attraction like that. You will never be completely protected from seeing other guys—even after marriage. Being in a dating relationship means committing to one person above others. It’s not wrong to notice other guys. We are, after all, wired to be attracted to guys. It becomes wrong when we are lusting after guys—your boyfriend included.

When I had been dating William for a while, sometimes I would notice other guys and then think, Emily! What’s wrong with you? You have a boyfriend. But I realized that I can’t simply stop myself from noticing guys. What I can control is what I do with those thoughts when I have them. Do I encourage them or take them captive? Our response is what makes the difference.

Infatuation doesn’t last, but love does.

There will be times when your feelings come and go. One day you might just be giddy with love for your significant other, and then the next day you might just be meh. This doesn’t mean you love him any less, it just means that some days we feel it more than others. We’re girls. Emotions change.

It’s like your relationship with God. Sometimes you feel so on fire and passionate about sharing God’s love, yet other times you feel more distant and quiet. It doesn’t mean you love God any less, it just means that we go through different seasons of life and we go through different seasons of emotions, too.

The reality is that true love is a choice—a choice to love even when the feelings aren’t there to motivate you. It’s okay to not have butterflies all the time. Love means choosing the other person over yourself when it’s less than convenient.

Those are some of the things I’ve learned since I started dating! I hope this list has been helpful to you if you are in a relationship or are considering dating. What do you wish you knew before you were in a relationship? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Figuring Out God’s Will for Your Life

It can be so hard to figure out what God is telling you what to do. How do you know what His will for your life is? It may not be as hard as you think. Click here to read more!

Have you ever read or watched Anne of Green Gables? It’s a wonderful novel and movie series about spirited orphan Anne Shirley fostered by a brother-sister duo who grows up to fulfill her dream of being a teacher. She has an incredible imagination as a child and knows that she wants to one day be a school teacher, just like her role model Mrs. Stacey. Of course, she goes on to charm and inspire everyone she comes in contact with and eventually marries the man she has always truly loved. It’s an all-Canadian story about cherishing the people in your life and following your dreams.

I grew up watching Anne of Green Gables (I think I’m due for another movie marathon now.) Somehow, I always thought my life would be like that, too. That when it came to going to college, I would simply follow my dreams. I would know what career I was called to. I also thought that I would be successful at everything I did and that it would all simply come together. Unfortunately, I didn’t experience an epiphany or revelation calling me to anything specific.

If you’re thinking about your future now, it’s likely that you’ve heard the phrases, “Follow your dream” or “Do what you’re passionate about.” But what if you just don’t know the answer to the pressing question, “What will you do for the rest of your life?”

I’m now in my third year of college, and I’ve been blessed enough to enjoy what I’m doing. But when I started college, I really wasn’t sure. So what do you do if you’re in those final years of high school or even a high school graduate and have no idea what you want to do with your life?

Consider God’s will, not just your own.

This one might sound a bit cliché, but when you switch your focus from “What is the best thing I could do for me?” to a perspective of, “What is the best thing I could do for God?” things change a bit. I had the desire to serve God in whatever job I did. I didn’t want to get a job just for the money but I wanted a job that would glorify God. If the goal is to glorify the Lord, it takes some of the pressure off. Now I’m doing what He wants me to do instead of trying to figure out the best career for myself.

Look at is as an opportunity to explore.

When I went to college, I really didn’t know if accounting was what I wanted to do. I did it mostly out of practicality, since I knew that business knowledge would be helpful in nearly any field. I also wasn’t going to be spending a lot of money since I was staying at home, so it wasn’t a huge financial loss if I decided I didn’t like it. Also, it was a two-year program—not a complete waste of time if it didn’t turn out to be everything I dreamed of. You have your whole life ahead of you. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get it one hundred percent right the first time.

Take your God-given desires seriously.

My true desire as a young woman is to be at home raising my own kids and loving and inspiring other kids. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t have much to say about being a stay-at-home mom—especially when that person is just leaving high school. Not a lot of seventeen-year-olds go around saying they don’t want a career. Sixty years ago, career women weren’t the norm. Now, women at home aren’t the norm. While my desire to be a stay-at-home wife and mom someday was real and honorable, it didn’t authorize a refusal of college education. One thing I knew I loved doing was teaching piano. I had been doing it for two years and loved it. I knew I wanted to continue teaching, but again, it wasn’t a full-time job at that point. By going to school for a job that could be part-time or full-time so that I could also teach piano and stay at home, I felt like I had made a good use of my tuition fund.

But what if you still don’t know? If you can’t figure out God’s calling in your life, do you just wait for Him to give you a revelation?

As Christians, we tend to think like this:

I need to do God’s will for my life. What is His will? I can’t figure it out. If I make the wrong decision, that means that I’m out of His will and it will take me who-knows-how-long to get back on track. I won’t be able to serve God properly and I will have messed up my whole life. I’d better just wait on God.

These conclusions are not true. We will not mess up God’s plan for our lives if we make one or two or seventy decisions. God has given us free will and the ability to make our own decisions. If God is telling you to do something, you’ll know. That’s why He sent the Holy Spirit to live in us. If you truly just don’t know what God is telling you to do, chances are He’s leaving it up to you. God is not there waiting for us to make one wrong move and mess up His plan. He will fulfill His plan no matter what you do. When your desire is to truly serve Him, He will honour that.

Take a deep breath and relax. God may be calling you to something specific, or He may be calling you to just make a decision. Instead of sitting around waiting for God to tell you what to do next, do something now. Serve Him and He will show you the next step.

In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. (Prov. 3:6)

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