September brings a shift in season--new challenges, new struggles, a fresh start, and often increased busyness. For many tomorrow is the first day back to school. This all got me thinking about what keeps me on track in new seasons, and I wanted to share this with you. I am so honored to have dozens of high-schoolers in my life, and you are actually the biggest reason I wrote this--but I hope it’s a blessing to everyone. If we were to go out to coffee, and you were to ask me what I think are keys to living well, at this point in time, this is what I’d want to tell you.
1. Protect your Private Life.
Your private life is the crux of your life. If your inner thoughts and dialogue are not centered in Christ and filled with thankfulness, you can only muster up joy, emotional health, excellence, or peace on your own strength for so long. Then you will eventually fall into depression, worry, anxiety, settling, and unrighteousness. Your secret self is the rudder of your soul. Protect personal devotion like a prized treasure. Your secret life, your secret thoughts, your secret actions, and your time with Christ must be guarded, for they are the core and the wellspring from which all things flow. The Father dwells in the Secret Place: are you keeping it holy?
2. Trust God.
Believe that God is who He says He is, and that you are who He says you are. Build your foundation in the Word. He is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end. He is the Prince of Peace. He is Jehovah Jireh, the Lord who Provides. He is El Roi, the God who sees you--He sees you and He loves you. And you are His child. His co-laborer. You have everything you need for living a Godly life already! (2 Peter 1:3) You are equipped for joy, peace, patience, grace, mercy, love, excellence, and anything else you can think of already. You have what it takes because Christ is in you. Believe it!
Love believes the best in every situation. Don’t focus on any natural tendencies to imagine the worst. Love always gives another chance. Love trusts that God is working in their life, too. Love chooses to lift up instead of tearing down or being silent. Love forgives--as many times as it takes. Love puts others first. Love is patient, and can wait. Love keeps believing it’ll work. Love is kind and not malicious. Love doesn't see what others have as something they don’t have, but instead sees their brothers and sisters dreams coming true and rejoices. Love lavishes out grace and mercy. Live out 1 Corinthians 13 to your parents, your significant other, your friends, your brothers, your sisters, your teachers, your boss, that weird kid at work or class or church, the person in line in front of you paying in pennies, and the people that lie about you.
4. Be Honest.
Be honest with yourself and with others. Never lie or deceive--the truth always comes out, and you don’t want to be on the wrong side when it does. There is no such thing as a white lie, or a little lie, or a half-truth. Be pure. Speak the truth in love. Learn when you don’t need to say anything (that’s never motivated by fear, by the way) and only give it to Jesus, and learn when you should speak up. Know the truth and let it saturate you.
5. Honor Authority.
Trust that God put the people that are in charge in your life there for a reason and find that reason. Love them. Tell them the truth. Communicate with them. Learn from them. Listen to them. Try out their ideas. If they micromanage you, don’t resent them--find out how God wants you to love and honor them and do it as if you were doing it to Jesus Himself.
When I live by these principles, my life is filled with peace, joy, and the presence of God. I encourage you this fall: seek first His Kingdom by protecting your secret place, trusting Him, loving people, being honest, and honoring authority, and let me know if it makes a difference long-term for you, too.
Some verses on these topics: Psalm 91:1, Proverbs 4:23, Matthew 6:6, Romans 12:10, 1 Corinthians 13, Ephesians 5:21, Philippians 4:13, 1 Thessalonians 5:12, 2 Peter 1:3