One piece of advice for my students: responsibility

You need to start taking responsibility of your life, your decisions, and your faith now.
All of those things matter.
All of those are things where you have a lot of control now.
Yes, you have parents, you have teachers, you have other adults around you who are teaching you.

And they can tell you great things, and they can teach you great things.
And we as a church and can teach you great things.
But that is worthless if you don’t do anything with it.
And it’s up to you to put the lessons into action.
I say these things because I know it can be easy to put it off, it can be easy to feel like you’re not responsible for your cohoices.
I know you can feel this way because I know adults who are a lot older than you guys are who still think that way. Who still haven’t really grown up. Who still haven’t taken responsibility.
There’s no magical time when you should start.
Now is the time.
Do you want to be a great person? Do you want to have a great life?
What are you doing today to make that possible?
Because if you go your whole childhood and think “Eh, I’m just a kid” and don’t take responsibility and don’t take ownership, you’re going to make the life that you want harder.
Now is the time.
Now is the time to work hard.
When your friends just want to play video games and watch TV, to make sure you’ve studied.
I’m not saying to stop having fun, to stop doing things you like.
But to care.
And to show you care by putting in the work.
In the times when you’re tempted to blow off studying, instead to say “I care about this.”
To make it a way of life.
For the things that are really hard or that you don’t understand, where it might be tempting to say “I just don’t get it” to get help. To ask a teacher, ask someone to help you.
It can be easy to say “I’m just not good at this.”
We’re almost never good at something we don’t practice. We’re almost never good at something we don’t work at.
Don’t make those excuses.
Don’t focus on what you don’t have. There are people who have it worse. There are people who have less. There are people in worse situations.
All of your life, there will always be setbacks, there will always be things that aren’t perfect.
You have to be strong.
You have to work through imperfect situations. You have to deal with imperfect teachers. Guess what, you’ll also have imperfect bosses. You’ll also have imperfect spouses. If you have kids, you’ll have imperfect kids.
Don’t think that what you need to succeed is perfect circumstances, perfect health, a perfect group of people around you, perfect support from everyone, to already have the talent and the knowledge and then once you have all of those things, then you can succeed.
Don’t fall into that way of thinking. Because it’s wishful thinking for something that isn’t reality.
Because the world is imperfect. People are imperfect.
And you have to find ways to work hard and succeed in spite of that.
Don’t blame others.
Because no one does more to get in our way than us.
Do you ever tell yourself you’re going to do something and you don’t do it.
No one has broken more promises to you than you have.
No one has stopped you more han you have.
No one stops you from working hard, you do that.
No one stops you from learning, you decide it’s too hard and decide not to.
No one stops you from practicing and getting better at something, you decide to spend that time doing something else.
And no one is going to hold your hand and make sure you succeed and work hard. You have to do that for yourself.
Not in the future, not when you grow up. Today.
Get into those habits today, make it a way of life today. Start pushing yourself today.
Do that, and you’ll dominate.
Becuae most of your classmates aren’t doing that.
And when you’re working, most of your co-workers won’t be doing that either. Most people are lazy, most people look for the easy way.
Think about people who are successful.
Is that what they do?
Is that what you want?
Then you have to work for it.
Nothing is handed to you.
Nothing that’s truly worth having comes easy.
Are you doing things today that will put you in a position to succeed?
It’s up to you.
Work is a good thing. Hard work is a good thing.
So many of us try to avoid working hard. Try to always find the easy way, the path of least resistance.
But work is a good thing. We were created to work.
The Book of Genesis begins with God creating the heavens and the earth. God makes everything.
And  God’s creation is said to be “very good.” Because God is good.
When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers.The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold.And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there.The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush.And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.
The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.
-Genesis 3:5-15
Did you see that at the end?
The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.
We were made for work.
If we were to keep reading in the book of Genesis, Adam and his wife Eve choose to disobey God, this is called sin.
But even before they sin, God tells Adam to work and keep the garden.
Work is a good thing that God introduced into his very good creation.
Psalm 128:2 says “You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;
you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.”
Proverbs 12:11 says “Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread,
but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense.”
Now I realize that you aren’t farming the land. But this verse is no less true for us.
Whoever works hard in the classroom, whoever works hard at his job…
That there is blessing in working hard.
That doesn’t mean everything will be easy or perfect.
And the opposite is true.
The end of this verse says: he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense.”
We have so much freedom and ease in 2019 that it’s easy to do nothing. To just hang out, again, just watch TV, or video games, or YouTube, and not really accomplish anything.
I’m not saying never do that stuff.
But start with the work that you need to get done and then enjoy doing things that are relaxing.
Don’t blow stuff off. Because if you do that, you’ll make your life so much harder than it needs to be.
Laziness is a sin. Laziness goes against what God desires of us.
Because our lives themselves are meant to bring glory to God.
Colossians 3:17 says “whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
In no other area of life is this advice truer than our faith and our walk with God. That’s on you. That’s up to you. No matter how you’re raised or who your parents are, you need to know God and pursue him.
No matter how often you go to church or youth group, you need to make that relationship with God your own. You need to take ownership of that.
No matter how well our parents or pastors are trying to lead us to faith, none of that matters if you don’t take that step out on your own and believe in Jesus and the grace that he offers.
For more information on knowing Jesus, read here.

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Josh Benner is the associate pastor at Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church in Fergus Falls, Minnesota and has a Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He enjoys writing about faith and culture. He lives with his wife Kari in Minnesota.

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