The assignment was simple. Write and submit an essay about the principles learned during our sessions. I began to do the math; if there were four classes and the report was 1,000 words, I could reflect on each lesson and compose roughly 250 words for each topic. I cannot say that I am surprised, but the wealth of knowledge passed on during this semester far surpasses the length of the assignment. I will do my best to summarize each of the personally impacting examples that piqued my attention and intentionally became a part of my Christian journey. I want to expound on the thoughts of mental health leading to spiritual health and Christian attitude and servitude.
Life constantly throws you curveballs. Not long after you successfully overcome an obstacle, another will present itself. The question is, did you learn anything from what you went through? Some people repeat the same cycle and never pick up on the lesson hidden in the trial. We may get stuck in a rut without even realizing it. Only through prayer, studying of the Word, and self-reflection can God reveal the “next step” for our lives. This devotion to basic principles takes persistence and selflessness, but it also takes faith and obedience!
Mental health is vital to spiritual health. Your mindset determines your outcome! When things seem low, or you let people get to you, you become weary. When the fight overtakes your focus, spiritual behaviors begin to diminish. When I was a young man going through boot camp, I entered the training with an outlook to push past the abuse and achieve the goal. By applying myself to the task at hand, I gained favor and didn’t have to do as many push-ups. That short experience, when accomplished, has led to the disciplines and backgrounds of a life-long career. When it comes to the Kingdom of God, having the right motivations (even in short experiences) can produce life-long results for you and those around you. There were times when I would claim to be “burned out,” but I realized that with the right mentality and discipline, you could labor for the Lord without losing out in your spirit. I have also spent time going through the motions and consider this a time of being somewhat mentally focused but not adhering to daily disciplines.
During this semester, I discovered through self-examination that I needed more dedicated prayer time. My morning devotionals would run long while trying to cramp in as much scripture as possible, and then I would run out of time for prayer. I have improved my time management and length of time devoted to prayer by setting alarms for certain intervals throughout the allotted time frame. I no longer rush through scripture passages but take small sections every day. Without the burden of completing a chapter (or four), I can study the selection, reflect on the meaning, and review select commentaries. When the alarm rings, I set all material aside, and it is time to praise, pray the Word, and bring petitions.
Prayer is one of the most critical disciplines when maintaining a proper attitude. Faith, removing hindrances, and placing yourself at God’s disposal are great ways to condition your attitude for servitude. Studying the Bible is a great way to allow God to speak to you through the scriptures. There is still no substitute for prayer. Prayer can accomplish all of the above-listed governing principles. You can even pray the Word and pray it out loud! Communication with the Creator trains your spiritual ear to recognize the Shepherd’s voice. The Holy Ghost is most often poured out through prayer. Through prayer, you can gain insight and guidance. During times of prayer and seeking the Lord, sought-after anointing can be dispensed to carry you through the rough times and further your ministry. There is something about the spoken word that manifests the Glory of God. Speak with authority in faith. Speak healing and restoration, and God will give the increase!
An attitude of gratitude will lead to servitude. When we approach Kingdom work with a righteous viewpoint, we turn “problems into blessings!” Kindness and encouragement should guide our daily interactions. Believing that we do not have much time to squander, I have recently picked up the slogan, “Let’s go big before we go Home!” There is no time for pity parties. Our attitudes may need an adjustment, but we cannot stop gaining ground for Jesus based on how we feel. Attitudes are contagious, and I want to be the one spreading a good mood instead of picking up someone else’s mulligrubbing, pitiful sad face, or rebellious demeanor.
Jesus set the example for living a righteous life. He displayed the most genuine, unselfish example of serving others through a heart of compassion and love. When we view humanity as worthy of that love, compassion for lost souls (and our fellow saints) should motivate us to serve with excellence. Serve in a way that makes each person feel special because they are worth enduring a cross. Jesus had “nothing to prove, nothing to lose, and nothing to hide.” Placing God’s will and others before our needs is a tremendous stride in this direction. We are a blessed people, and we are called to be a blessing to someone else.
In conclusion, I count it an honor and a blessing for the Lord to have brought me to an awakening in my spirit. Sitting on a church pew and going through the motions will not get you to the place God has purposed for you. Spiritual inactivity or refusal to submit to God will not be beneficial in the lives or fates of those around us. I am grateful for second and third chances. I am thankful for Purpose Institute and the lessons that it brings. I praise God for my church family and for instruction in righteousness in a time that could have decided my destiny differently. It is not often that someone can continue their Christian journey after facing such odds, and I do not take this opportunity lightly. I will remember these lessons of love for eternity.