This post was originally published on www.alanpastian.com. Thanks for allowing us to share, Alan!
If I were in my 20’s again, there would be some practices and disciplines that I would build into my everyday life as The New Young Christian. I would execute these disciplines regularly that it would become natural for me decades later.
HERE ARE 5 DISCIPLINES THE NEW YOUNG CHRISTIAN SHOULD START IN THEIR 20'S:
1. Journaling. When I became a Christian at 22 years old, I didn't want to forget what God was telling me. So I bought a notebook and began to write Scriptures down. From there, I also began to write short prayer phrases down. From there, it has become a discipline where I don't go anywhere without my prayer journal. Let me tell you what this was not: A "Dear Jesus Diary" where I share my heart secrets and talk about what I want in my future spouse. Nope. Although that's not wrong by any means, for a dude in his 20's like me at the time, that was not what I was aiming for. For me, this was and has become, a daily practice where I simply have a blank page in front of me and I ask God to "speak to me." I write down verses that stand out to me, I write down impressions that I believe God is speaking to my heart, worship song lyrics that "I can't shake" that I believe is the song of God to my season, etc. Impressions in prayer that seem to come to mind that I keep praying. God commands us to write what we see and hear and run forward with it (Habakuk 2:2). I have realized journaling what I see and hear in devotions, sermons, conferences, etc, are "vision reveals" where God pulls back the curtain of his plan to reveal to me who I am, what I'm doing and where I'm going. I have also developed a part of this habit that I say, "speak Lord" and whatever I perceive God speaking to my heart, I write it down. This has allowed me to develop a listening ear to hear God's voice regularly and most importantly recognize that voice so when I'm out with others (leading, loving, speaking, encouraging, etc) I recognize God's counsel when it comes (John 10:27). Because of this habit that I started at 22 I now have a collection of journals that I will give to my son and daughter as part of my spiritual legacy. My children will have years of journals to see what God spoke to their father not only about me, but our family and about them!
2. "Tribing." This is my own word that I use to define and rally those relationships that are meaningful to me, that champion my current season and that dream with me for my future. Seth Godin, from his book Tribes, says this about these relationships, "A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader and connected to an idea.... A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate." I break my tribes down into some of the following categories: Inner Circle (those who I am most real with), Mentors (mature relationships who have permission to speak into my life), Models (who is doing what I am doing ahead of me and doing it well), Timothys (those who I can speak into, encourage and inspire who will outlast me) and The Prayer Circle (those relationships that I can share prayer needs with who I know pray and hear from God), to name a few. Friendships often start early. And take work. In my 20's, my relationships seem to have deeper meaning and importance to me. I need people who can speak into my life who know me well. So make sure to surrounded yourself with the right friends. Let those in your tribe be from all walks of life. They may or may not be the people from your 20’s, but be on the lookout for relationships that have potential to inspire you and for you to aspire to be....
3. Giving. You can never be too early to start giving. What are those areas of your life that move you to tears, move your heart and go make a difference in your family, community and world? I have always been drawn to ministries and causes that help those who are orphaned or alone. Now my family and I have developed and give weekly to our "Cause Cooperative." Our family Cause Co-Op funds our personal causes and charities that have an intentionality in developing the heart of the fatherless, orphan and the abandoned. This includes child sponsorship, monthly cause support and even a generosity fund that we can give from if we encounter someone with a need. Not only does this allow is to diversify our generosity but the singular cause focus is leaving a memorable legacy for my family that we can look back on that my children will always remember. I have realized generosity is one of the most rewarding parts of my life. To own and champion a cause that is close to you and your family's heart will establish a legacy of generosity that starts with you that will outlast you. Let your Cause Co-Op become a staple in your friendships and family. I highly recommend starting this discipline early before the world and all its demands attempts to take the ability from you.
4. "IDing." Specifically here I’m referring to understanding your identity by who God designed you to be and living out this identity in the world. Mark Batterson, mentor and friend to me, has always said to me, "No one can worship God like you or for you." That means that when you are truly yourself in the Kingdom, that's when the Kingdom of God is being the most complete and most recognizable as Jesus. There are many versions of me: the ME others want me to be, the ME I want to be, the ME I don't want to be, etc. But there is a version of ME that God wants me to be and that's what I'm desiring to become. This me is not mass-produced like a greeting card in a Target with multiple cards exactly like it, each behind one another at every target in the nation. No...I'm not a mass-produced creation but a masterpiece creation. Unique, one-of-a-kind, valuable and ready to be shown off to the world (Ephesians 2:10). Because I live in Arizona, what it takes to grow a cactus would kill a Marigold. This is why comparing yourself to others is never healthy. What you need to make you grow into who God wants you to become is going to be different than what it's going to take others. Discover your gifts and talents. Take spiritual gifts tests and see what hits the top of the list and also be aware at what's at the bottom. Take the Strengthfinders test to highlight what makes you flourish. And always remember, all of this means nothing unless you start with your identity as a "son of God" or "daughter of God" first. Start there and see what God will reveal to you about your gifts, talents, calling and place in God's Kingdom. This discipline of identifying who I am regularly will cause me to be more secure the older I get and the result is a greater confidence to do what God wants me to do. When you discover who God wants you to be you won't want to be anyone else.
5. Honoring. This discipline of honoring others is rare. It seems one of the biggest battles the next generation has to fight against, is the feeling of being entitled. Now, I think it's easy to make sweeping statements like, 'this generation is entitled' and point the finger at others and not really understand the deep rooted issues. Entitlement is the belief that I am exempt from responsibility an I am owes special treatment. I think the best way to battle feeling entitled is to honor others. Honor says I am going to take responsibility and esteem , give respect and special credit to the other person with distinct worth. Find those around you who have wisdom, accomplishment and leadership and recognize what they have done with sincere gratitude. Most of the time these individuals will be older and have some expression of authority so not only submit to them but pray for them. Hebrews 13:17 says this about honoring those around you, especially those in spiritual authority, "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. In life, there will always be those who will have authority over you and experience beyond you. Don't be jealous of their position or place but celebrate them. When you’re young you can be guilty of thinking you know more than you really know. The older you get, the more you realize how much you don’t know. There is always something to be learned from another person’s experience you don’t have. The experiences and wisdom from others you collect over the years from honoring others will add value, inspire you and make you wiser.
Any you would add to my list?