Last night at CHARLOTTE/ONE’s 2nd Annual Homecoming, we had a blast celebrating what God has done over the last 8.5 years through this collaborative effort of local churches in our city. We’ve had over 200 gatherings, over 60 churches involved, 25,000 who have attended, and ONE vision…
“Let them be ONE, so that the world may know that You sent Me and that You love them even as much as You love Me.” – Jesus’ prayer in John 17:23
Improv Charlotte created some great laughs and helped us have fun, Josh Baldwin from Queen City Church led us in a powerful and honest time of worship through music, and then we cozy-ed up with hot chocolate and posed for the photobooth.
I also had the privilege of sharing ten tips for surviving our 20s and 30s that come from Paul’s first letter to Timothy. We’ve had some people ask for them, so I wanted to share them here.
In 1 Timothy, Paul is writing to his mentee, Timothy, who is taking over the pastoral leadership in Ephesus (modern day Turkey) from him. So, Paul wants to encourage and exhort Timothy by passing on his wisdom and instruction. Like Timothy, our generation has just now or is about to walk into more leadership, more responsibility, more freedom, and more influence. We have studied, worked, and hoped for taking on these positions or spheres of influence, and in 1 Timothy, we find ten tips for living these years as fully as we can.
10. Enjoy your situation and what you have been given (1 Tim. 4:4; 6:17c)
4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,
17c God richly provides us with everything to enjoy.
Don’t wait for life to start when you get the position you want, the level of financial security you want, or the relationships you want. Enjoy where you are now. All that God has created is good, and He wants us to enjoy it. Whatever He has given, you can receive it with thanksgiving. Don’t miss out on what is happening now in your life because you’re dreaming and hoping for what will be happening later.
9. Hold yourself accountable by keeping your priorities in order: Jesus, Others, Yourself (1 Tim. 4:16, 1:15-16)
16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.
5 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.
Have you heard the (somewhat cheesy, but helpful) JOY acronym before? If you want to find real joy, keep your priorities straight: Jesus, Others, Yourself. Paul sees his life as an instrument in God’s plan. As the foremost sinner who tracked down and persecuted the earliest Jesus followers, God was able to show the world how gracious He can be. Paul is most concerned about putting Jesus first, then others who might learn more about Jesus through him, and then himself last.
8. Get involved in a cause and use your gifts (1 Tim. 4:14-15)
14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.
The community he was about to lead confirmed Timothy’s gifts, and Paul tells him to put those gifts to use now. Don’t wait to do it. We can do the same. What grieves you so much that you have to do something about it? There are injustices all around you: Trafficking; Kids without school supplies, coats, and parents; Homeless men and women sleeping on the streets; Elderly friends waiting for someone to talk with them; refugees who need to learn English and how to apply for jobs. Learn who is doing something about whatever it is that grieves you and help them.
7. Rethink who you allow to influence you (1 Tim. 1:1, 4:6)
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,
6 If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed.
What kinds of people influence you? Paul was a great leader, but he was primarily a follower of Christ. He states in the very beginning of his letter that He has been commanded by God to be an apostle. He is to deliver the message and instruction God gave him. Do you have friends who make following Jesus their first priority? Do you follow leaders who demonstrate with their words and actions that they are more concerned about being humble followers than they are about being respected (or famous) leaders?
6. Choose 2-3 faithful Bible teachers to learn under (1 Tim. 1:3-4)
Remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, 4 nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardship from God that is by faith.
God does not want us to speculate about who He is or what His will is, so he gives us leaders. God’s leaders are grace-filled communicators of truth. They discern, defend, and protect the truth. When Paul says doctrine he means “right thinking about God.” Find a few teachers that you love to learn from and soak up the truth from them.
5. Pursue 1-2 disciplines that place you in a posture to receive God’s grace (1 Tim. 4:7)
7 Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness;
Spiritual disciplines sound laborious, and sometimes we feel they just make us guilt-ridden for constantly failing at them; but disciplines are not just the ones you think of like prayer and reading the Bible. They can and should be things you enjoy. The purpose is to direct your mind toward God and His Word. It could be exercise, having honest conversations with friends, journaling, simplifying life, hiking, or reading.
4. Give your money away now, not later (1 Tim. 6:17)
17 As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.
It’s important to begin kindling a thirst for generosity in your life now. It may not feel like it’s easy, but it never gets easier. Begin now and experience the joy and freedom generosity brings into your own life and the difference it makes in others. According to Scripture, generosity starts after 10% – God has made it clear that He expects us to give 10%. Challenge yourself to meet God’s expectation, and then move toward generosity. It all belongs to Him anyway!
3. Love agenda free (1 Tim. 1:5)
5 The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
Agendas are everywhere. Ads, bosses, employers, co-workers, networking, politicians, even sports teams. They are almost impossible to avoid, especially within yourself. Imagine how refreshing it is to receive anything agenda free. Receiving love agenda free can transform you life. God’s love is agenda-free – He loves you because He made you, unconditionally. In what relationships can you move toward loving people without an agenda?
2. Live in a bigger story than the one you’re telling (1 Tim. 1:16, 2:4-6)
16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.
4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
We belong to a bigger story than our own. Yet, we like to focus on our own story, and most of the time, we’re working on making sure our personal story looks good. Everyone’s life looks amazing on Instagram, so we think we have to keep up. But, we have been invited into God’s grand story of redemption—the best possible story we could ever live. Ground yourself in the best story, the only story that really matters, and play your role.
1. Protect unity by committing to a local community (John 17:21-23)
21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
CHARLOTTE/ONE has always been about three things: unity, the local church, and Charlotte 20 & 30 Somethings. We are all in Christ and therefore we all belong to the Father and to Jesus’ Bride, the Church. It is the hoped for mission of CHARLOTTE/ONE for 20 & 30 Somethings to commit to one local church in our city. The two simple and most important reasons are: (1) we need the local church—we need transgenerational community, community-based ways to follow Jesus, leadership opportunities that matter, and faithful Bible teaching. (2) the local church needs us—they need our leadership, the passion we can bring to new initiatives, to hear our perspective, and our help in sharing Jesus with our own generation.
If you’re looking for a great Christmas concert, be sure to join us on December 2nd at First United Methodist Church in Uptown!