Authentic faith is my ability for people to see a man pursuing the heart of God and in the process of my pursuit I am being transformed by it. This transformation is not just for a Facebook and Instagram world where everything looks great. Its in those moments where I am prone to get angry or selfish that my wife and children can see the Gospel come to life as I ask Him to change me from the inside out. His truth and love is transforming me.
That kind of authentic life and faith…can’t be outsourced. I have to own it…now for my post…
Some things are easier to outsource. In the time it would take me to learn how to change my own oil, I can pay $35 to have done in a fraction of that time. No mess for me, and time saved. This is a win-win scenario. I should not build my own house. But I can paint a wall. We make these calculations every day based on our skills and time constraints.
In a society and culture where we can outsource almost everything: our education, our meals, our jobs, our politics; if we aren’t careful it can actually lead us to outsource the wrong things. There is one thing that we cannot outsource. Authentic faith.
You can’t outsource God’s truth and love. If I give my tithe to the church, it is not in trade for being gracious with my neighbor. If I support a missionary overseas, it does not absolve me of being a missionary in my own town – in my own backyard.
Because there isn’t someone else to take my place. I am the one standing at the coffee counter on a regular basis, not my pastor, or the missionary, or the ministry. It’s me. I am the one standing right here, right now – and there is no way to outsource this moment.
It doesn’t matter whether I’m qualified, or even feel qualified. Because I’m here. No one else lives on the left-side of my neighbor. No one else has the opportunity, day in and day out, to greet him with kindness and compassion and show that Jesus changes a life. There is no one else waking up beside my spouse, who has the power to extend grace and forgiveness like me.
But what will better qualify me is time spent in the word and in His presence. Because I don’t have to know everything. All I have to do is listen to the voice of the One who called me by name. To trust that he is Lord over any situation He has placed me in. In other words, my faith needs to look authentic, imperfect, on my way, still becoming more like Christ each day kinda faith.
Another example of where I can’t outsource sharing the truth of Christ is passing my faith onto my children? Research and scriptures remind us that parents play the most important role in faith transmission. Yes, the church plays a vital role in faith development. But somehow we have bought into the idea that a youth leader is better suited to teach our children about Jesus than we are. We let them handle it – after all, they’re “cooler” than us. They understand scripture, have a better understanding of the pressures teens face and probably have some training on how to make a better impact on their lives. Most youth leaders I know, play a huge role in teens lives and in most cases the previous descriptions are true (cool, relevant, and can teach the Bible). But that doesn’t mean I outsource.
The truth is we are impressing something onto our children. Why not faith?
There is no substitute for the direct investment a parent has on their children. As many scholars and researchers will tell you, no one can replace or even come close to the impact a parent has in the faith of their children. Our faith is something we cannot outsource to someone who has them for two hours a week. We will find partners in youth leaders and in the church to help reinforce a strong faith, but their key role is to come alongside to support. It is my job as a parent to find key adults and communities to speak truth, love and grace into their lives.
My Biggest Fear: Not Being Good Enough
In all the situations described above, our belief in something – our truth – will be tested. Let me give an example: I know without a shadow of a doubt that God called Karen and I here to Monadnock Bible Conference. Since that time, we have faced many giants and continue to as a couple, as a family, and as an organization. These giants have led me to the point where I have asked God, “Are you sure you have the right guy?” “Did I hear correctly that this is where you wanted us?” Fear and doubt creep in and I am left with this unsettling turmoil of truth. “What have I placed my faith in and is it worthy to be trusted?”
To be vulnerable, I have been fighting off lots of doubt. I had a hard time sleeping one night, and it was as if God was tapping me on my shoulder “to come.” So, I headed down to my living room and knelt at my couch. Feeling a little lost, I didn’t even know where to begin my conversation with my “Abba.” Ever been there?
I turned on some worship music and cracked open my Bible App and began to read. The following words came up, “Lord, I just want to be found worthy of your calling…” Reading on, the day’s devotion started out, “To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling…” He had my attention. As I began to read and pray, God revealed to me my stumbling block: fear. Not just any kind of fear, but a fear that went all the way back to my childhood. No, not spiders. My fear of not being good enough. Not being enough for God, my wife and kids, for MBC…the list went on.
It was in that moment that I was overcome with emotion and the words just began to flow. My heart and will finally surrendered. He said, “I am enough for you.”
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. 7 Repeat them to your children.” (CSB)
Your faith, your love, your truth can’t be outsourced because you cannot give to anyone, especially your children, what you do not have. What you will give them is a bankrupt faith; conditional love; and relative truth.
It’s often in those intimate moments, when I find myself completely surrendering to Him, that He lets me know of His great love for me and that He is enough. And because He is enough for me, He is also enough for my children, my spouse, my family and friends, my neighbors, and even my enemies.
I would encourage you to reflect on the things in your life you have been outsourcing, especially your faith. Be honest and real about why things need to change. If you have lost your way and have become so disconnected, ask for forgiveness. Make things right. Talk with your spouse or family about small or big course corrections you might need to make as a family. I know I have and honestly, it is making all the difference.