If we lead the next generation to love and serve others, their faith will move in a positive direction. If we don’t, their faith will become shallow and superficial. Not only does loving God affect how we love others, but loving others affects how we love God. That’s the genius of what Jesus was implying in the Great Commandment. Your relationship with God and your relationship with others is intricately connected.
Here’s the practical point. We often miss the link between loving others and practical spiritual development. As church leaders, most of us have been programmed to teach kids what to believe, but not to coach kids how to love and serve. And as a result, a generation is missing the party.
So, I want to give you a list of things to do to start the party and help the kids and students in your church become party starters. If I could start over, I would have done these two things a lot sooner. You can add to this list if you want to, but I promise that developing these habits, it will have a profound effect on your faith. And if you don’t develop these habits, if you don’t occasionally slow down and start a few parties or find somebody else’s party to join, you might end up going through the motions of ministry without really inviting people into what it means to follow Jesus.
#1: Invite Someone New to the Table
Let me clarify. By new I don’t just mean someone you don’t know. I mean someone who is not like you. And by table, I’m not talking about a boardroom table. I’m talking about a party table. It’s where friends hang out.
You want a bigger faith?
You want to remind yourself that God is bigger than . . .
- your race?
- your experiences?
- your denomination?
- your part of town?
- your church?
Then invite someone new to the table.
God is probably bigger than some of your conclusions about Him, but the only way for you to really encounter a God that big is to start spending some time with people who aren’t like you. When you invite someone new to the table, you almost always learn something new about God. Let me look at your cell phone. Who are you doing life with who is not like you? Look around and invite someone who is different into your life. I dare you to spend enough time with someone who doesn’t think like you that you actually start to like them. (You might even like them more than some people who think exactly like you). The more fascinated you become with the differences in people in this world, the more fascinated you will become with God.
#2: Fast-forward Someone Else’s Dream
Here’s another one: Start a party that’s not about you. Maybe that’s the most important thing someone needs to tell you. Something will happen to your faith when you fast-forward someone else’s dream, when you help someone else win. We all have resources that we can leverage that will help someone else get ahead. We can give, lead, encourage, advocate, introduce, and guide so another person’s dream becomes a reality.
We were all made in the image of a generous God. If you ever need proof that God is real, pay attention to all the people who show up to help someone. Generosity is a clear distinctive of being human. When you and I learn to respond to God’s generous nature by giving to others, it affects our faith. Since no one’s life is stationary, you are always moving toward an empty life or a rich life. But that process is counterintuitive. Greed almost always makes life empty. Generosity makes life rich. So, as strange as it seems, the best way to guard your faith is to look for ways to invest in someone else.
Trust me. One reason I know there’s a God is because of people in my life who have lived lives of generosity. You are never more like God than when you are sacrificing for the sake of another person’s future.