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Who are you cheering for? No, I'm not talking about college football (although the season does start in 50 days). I mean, who in your life are you cheering on? Or what does that look like? I've got a few thoughts. 

Living in the DC and working in campus ministry at an elite university, sometimes I'm suffocated by the amount of competition (while other days, it can be so easy to sucuumb to the temptations of ambition). When I first moved to the city for the DC Chi Alpha CMIT Program, I was looking for ways to serve the students in my small group and others that I'd met on campus. I was a little bit at a loss because these students didn't necessarily have the needs I was familiar with: knowledge, resources, vision. 

Written by Blane Young   Twitter  ||  Facebook

Written by Blane Young

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For several years, I'd primarily worked children and teenages in low-income neighborhoods where the needs seemed to be more obvious. This was an entirely different scenario! 

But as I processed the story that God was (and is) writing at Chi Alpha at American University, I noticed something. It was later confirmed by several seniors as we discussed their time involved in our ministry.

Our community became a place where people found affirmation without competition. 

I don't know if you've ever been in a community like that. I hope you have. But in some ways, I think all of us have at least one person in our lives who is a cheerleader (for lack of a better word). Like, whether you tell them that you're going to a concert or you're spending a year helping children to learn to read overseas, they're excited for you and want to pack you a snack. 

So, how do we do this? 

Like most things in life that matter, it's going to require intentionality. In other words, it won't happen without us putting thought as to how it'll happen. 

I think we have to engage in the discipline of listening, for starters.  I mean, how can we support people in what they're doing if we're only focused on what we'd like to see them do. 

Perhaps you have a friend trying to be an artist or someone committed to a certain cause like Relay for Life. Whatever it is, I'm finding that being an influence in someone's life is more nuanced than simply painting a picture of what you'd like to see them do and asking them to make it happen. 

Instead, it's about supporting them as they pursue their dreams, as their potential leaks out amidst a competitive society, they'll need someone clapping behind them as they run towards doing something amazing. It takes more time than applying a cookie-cutter to people but the results are always better. 

I've got to admit, I'm not the best at this, but I've had a handful of people in my life that have done this for me and I can tell you, it makes a difference. 

The next thing we have to do is find ways to express to this person that we're rooting for them, that we're on their team. So, telling them is a great option. It's strange how often we expect people to know how we feel without ever telling them. It sounds obvious, but how many of us do it? 

Yet there's another level you can take this to. Find ways to engage and participate in the things they're passionate about. 

This is what affirmation, in my opinion, looks like at its best. 

Its people intentionally and deliberately recognizing how God is working in people's lives through their giftings and talents, then simply yet boldly using our voices and our time to let them know we as committed to them as they are to whatever they're doing.

We've probably all heard the cliche, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." Although I believe it's true, let's take it a step further. People are most influenced in the context of relationship (see Mark 2) or as I've heard it more recently, "People may not remember what we tell them but they'll never forget how we made them feel."

The last and perhaps most difficult thing it takes to make this sort of impact on someone, is the continual refocusing from self to others. Yet, it's so essential to the message of Christ, we can't ignore it, no matter how many times we failed or how tiring it is.

I hope that you experience the joy and fulfillment of cheering on a friend, loved one or relative. And remember that as you do, you're embarking on a journey to become more like Christ while infusing courage (the definition of encouraging) someone else who's also somewhere on that journey.  


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AuthorBlane Young

Since I have returned to DC from Missouri, I have been shivering in my boots (rhetorically speaking; it’s summer, why would I wear boots?).  No, not because I walk in from the blazing heat in Noah-inspired levels of perspiration to the Arctic Circle (isn’t that what AC stands for?).  It is that blasted DC traffic.  In a simple month I’ve lost all capacity to tango these metal rapids.  Oh, but I’ve overcome y’er tidalous waves before City, and I’ll do it again!  

What I find most helpful is focus.  

Surprise.  

Written by Nick Holmstedt   Facebook  ||  Twitter

Written by Nick Holmstedt

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Simple focus can suppress your flighty arms from flailing and fumbling.  The streets are just so filled with distractions, though.  It’s really important to watch that robin feed its chicks.  Or the kayakers in the Potomac.  Or my sandwich.  And suddenly I’m swerving.  Sometimes I’m on the highway, and what brings me back are those obnoxious CLUNK CLUNK CLUNK strips on the side of the road.  Sometimes in the city I get a honk… or a thumbs up (wrong finger, strangely).  In any case, these interruptions bring me back from my distraction.

I think this held true in my lifestyle.  My focus was torn between the real interests of my life as I stepped into college.  Education, relationship, church, campus ministry, jobs, books, creating lists of interests.  My life was filled with distraction.  Not bad things.  Just many things without focus.  

One summer I faced my first interruption.  More or less on a whim I attended a leadership retreat with our campus ministry.  Someone must’ve changed the angle light was entering me, because my image was clearer.  In this interruption (from life), I was free to leave behind distraction.  I was pleased to have a fixed focal point.  

I needed this more than once.  As I grew more involved in my campus ministry, taking on leadership, I discovered the picture can always get clearer.  Miscommunications.  Broken relationships.  Missed opportunities.  Interruptions.  No moment off your path seems right.  But without the interruption of campus ministry, I would have been off kilter (do people still use that?).  Campus ministry not only provided the interruption to my life, but it was the LASIK machine.  

God is an excellent eye surgeon.  Over the years on campus, He managed the ministers (in title and otherwise) well.  He repaired my eye’s uneven lens.  He gave me friends.  He gave me focus.  He gave me the capacity to walk His path.  Without campus ministry I could not define my life now.  I was uncertain, floating in mysterious mists.  But now I stand with the joy of the Lord, to share His good news with all the purpose and provision He delights to provide. 

Don’t go blind.  All you college folk go out and find your campus ministry!  

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AuthorBlane Young

I think that it can be difficult to get to a place of meaningful conversation with someone. Sometimes it’s just hard to talk about the deeper things in life, because that means more investment not only in the conversation, but also in the people we’re talking to. As a minister on campus, it’s important for me to be able to have meaningful conversations with students so that I can know how to best love them and help them grow. It’s also important to have deep conversations in my friendships and other relationships. I enjoy having fun and hanging out with my friends and family, but I feel that I can’t truly connect with them and love them if I don’t know what’s going on with them underneath the surface.  

While sparking the conversation can be tricky, there are some questions that I have found helpful in getting to a place of deep conversation with students and other people in my life. 

 Written by Becca Pugh   Facebook  ||  Twitter

 Written by Becca Pugh

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How are you doing? 

This seems cliché, but it’s surprising how such a common question can cause someone to open up and share when I ask it during a time and space designated to them, not as I’m rushing through campus on my way to my next meeting. It gives them the space to really share what’s going on and know that the listener on the other end cares enough to stick around to listen and respond.

What did you think of [insert pastor’s name here]’s message on [whichever day that person attended service] ?

This is something that will definitely spark a meaningful conversation, especially if it’s followed up with asking how the message specifically applies to someone: “What is God speaking to you personally through this message?”

What aspect of God’s character has been most apparent to you in this season?

This question can reveal a lot about what God is doing in someone’s life, how they are connecting with Him and how they are growing in their faith. It can also help me know how to pray for someone. Speaking of which…

How can I pray for you?

Even if a majority of my time with someone is not spent talking about deep things, this question will definitely create a space to share struggles, worries, and difficulties that I can pray for, and vice versa.

I try not to let all of the deep conversation be one-sided. Sometimes initiating deeper conversation happens when I begin to talk about something deeper, or share what’s going on with me.   

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AuthorBlane Young
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In the process of looking for jobs, young professionals often succumb to the corporate world and lose sight of their vision and who they are. However, knowing oneself, and God’s plan for your career, is extremely important during job hunting. 

Written by Steve Prawiromaruto ( Facebook )

Written by Steve Prawiromaruto (Facebook)

Tedx Speaker and author Simon Sinek came up with a revolutionary idea called “Start with Why.” During his talk, he continuously emphasized this idea of “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Sinek discussed how famous individuals such as Steve Jobs and the Wright Brothers came up with ideas that revolutionized the world even though there were others around them that had the same capacity to do so. According to Sinek, what distinguishes these individuals is that they communicate the main driving force or the “why” behind their ideas instead of merely saying what their idea is.

Indeed, Sinek’s point of using “why” is revolutionary and gives us a new perspective on careers and how God plays a role in it. Ultimately, if God is your “Why,” he will guide you in the right path and into the right career path. Ask these questions:

  • What talents has he given to me?
  • What kind of environment is he calling me to work in? 
  • Has he created me as someone who likes social interaction? If not, what jobs would be the best fit for me?
  • How much money do I want to make while still putting God first and finances second?

Ah yes, the dreaded money question. Although money is a tricky issue, its still something that needs to be considered. Be honest with yourself regarding how much you should make with your living situation and look for jobs that fit your needs. Do your research regarding the average wage of your position before discussing pay with your employer and do not just accept a low offer for no good reason and expecting a raise in the near future. The organization Glassdoor, a reputable career database, has stated that this does not happen 99% of the time. If you have prayed about it and thought it through, there is no reason to accept anything less, as it will only hurt you and even your future family in the long run.

Sinek states that this approach of using “why” is what makes inspiring leaders. Martin Luther King Jr. said “I have a dream” and not “I have a plan.” He said what his beliefs were and it resonated to those around him and attracted people to him. When you find the right job, and you’re sitting in that office, nervously waiting for your interview, take a minute to examine yourself and ask “Why” you really want this job. Don’t just say profit, which is a result and not a purpose, as Sinek says, but instead ask how this job would accomplish your vision and mission for the future. Going into the interview with this mindset will help you be more confident throughout the interview and help out with those “Tell us a little bit about yourself” questions.

However, even with using “why” and leaning on the Lord for guidance, the path will still be long and challenging. You will probably receive a couple of rejection letters or even not receive anything, after that first interview and maybe even a couple more following that. To make matters worse, your well-intentioned friends and family might continuously remind you about it by asking “Oh how’s that interview you said you aced?” or “Do you have a job yet?” However, these moments are actually where a “why” and a bigger purpose will help you. In a recent article I read from the Huffington Post, the author stated that the number one skill in the workforce is surprisingly not two years of experience with Photoshop but instead “tenacity”. The ability to stay resilient after failure and persistently holding on to your “Why” is how you build up your character and continue working towards success. Thomas Edison took 10,000 attempts to invent the lightbulb. You may fail many times before finally landing the right job.

While a lot of people out there would just say “Follow Your Dreams,” I think this is way too simplistic as your dream will not always be what is good for you. Only by leaning to the Lord as your identity and purpose in job hunting will you be able to choose the right career path and be able to present yourself as someone with ambition and vision. 

Further Resources

Money at US News - Choosing a Fitting Career

Jobs at AOL - How to Negotiate Your Starting Salary

Forbes - 10 Things to Do When You Don't Hear Back After a Job Interview

Huffington Post - The Most Valuable Skill

Posted
AuthorBlane Young

Tom* had been coming to our small group for weeks but he just didn’t fit in.  He often said things that were inappropriate, missed social cues and had a hard time adding to the discussion.  I’d like to say that keeping him included showed that we were deeply in touch with the Spirit, but it was probably because our ministry was so small.  We didn’t care who you were, just as long as you kept showing up.  We needed Tom, but we soon found out it was more than just to fill an empty seat. 

Tom was a difficult person to be with and it wasn’t like getting to know him better made things easier.  He was always negative and had a list of problems.  He would constantly ask for your advice, but then ignore almost everything you’d tell him, but we still needed Tom.

Written by Mike Godzwa   Twitter  ||  Facebook

Written by Mike Godzwa

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My friend Dick Foth likes to say, “Everyone is my mentor, because everyone has something to teach me.”  

What did Tom have to teach us?  He helped our group understand what unconditional love was all about.  The years he was with us was a pivotal time in our group.  We were setting the tone and culture of our ministry. The truth is, without Tom, it would have been easy for us to fall into the trap just loving the people who were like us and reaching out to those that could stroke our own ego.  But Tom helped us see past ourselves.  He made us understand that true love is impossible without keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus as our source and relying on the power of the Holy Spirit.  

I’m happy to say that Tom did grow. His personality began to soften as he settled into the acceptance of our community, but the rest of us benefited far more. We got to see how potent Jesus’ love is…especially when we give it away.  

Dealing with difficult people is never easy, but my experience with Tom helped me stop asking, “Why me?” and changed my question to, “What do I have to learn?” 

 

* We have changed this person's name to protect the difficult. 

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AuthorBlane Young