"Remarkable doesn't just mean 'neat.' It means 'worth making a remark about.'" That's a quote from Seth Godin, one of my favorite authors, and we used a short clip from a talk he did to business leaders to introduce our new series at axis ... UNCOMMON. I challenged our kids right off the bat and asked them if their life was worth making a remark about. Were they living in such a way that people noticed ... the way they gave, the way they served, they way the cared for others, the way they talked, their attitude ... would people say "Wow, that's uncommon!" Would people make a remark about how they are living their life because it stands out.
We then broke up in to our "Chat Groups" and allowed kids the opportunity to discuss what it means to be uncommon and live in an uncommon way. The groups seemed to go really well and it seemed as if the topic really hit home with our students.
The specific topic tonight was Uncommon Attitude. We looked at James 1:2 - 4 and talked to our kids about how to have an "Uncommon Attitude" when times are tough. I used the example of lifting weights (and got to show off a bit by curling a dumb bell several times) haha. We all know that if we lift weights we become bigger and stronger. But, the reason that works is because when we exercise we are actually breaking down our body, breaking down our muscles. That's why we get sore after exercise. But, God has designed our bodies in an amazing way. After we break down muscle, the body begins to repair itself. And, it's in the repairing process that our muscles get bigger and stronger. So, we have to break out bodies down in order for them to build themselves up and become stronger.
Spiritually speaking I believe it works the same way. Nothing breaks us down more than going through a really difficult time. It's through the "breaking" that God makes us stronger. For whatever reason God chooses to use the really hard times in our life and allows us the opportunity to become stronger from them. The "common" attitude when going through a difficult time is to ask "Why?" Or, to get negative and say that "It's not fair. Why does this always happen to me?" Or, if you're on facebook, an unfortunately common status I see often is "fml" after a post about something negative. The "common" person folds under the pressure of a difficulty or a trial. But, instead of asking God to take the problem away, the uncommon person will ask God to help them become stronger because of the problem. The first part of James 1:2 ... "Consider it pure joy when you go through trials of many kinds" ... that's crazy! That's uncommon! Seriously! As I was reflecting on that verse, I thought to myself, "That is just nuts!" How can we consider it "joy" while going through something really hard? The joy comes from knowing that after you get through it you will become "mature and complete, not lacking anything" as James 1:4 tells us. There are some life characteristics that will only be developed when we learn to face our challenges head on.
I'm not saying it's easy. I'm not saying it will be fun. I'm not saying it's going to be a simple process and won't hurt at all. Even as I type all of this I think to myself that there are some scenarios of pain and trauma and hurt that I don't even want to imagine going through. But, the hope comes in knowing that God walks with us through those times and will make us stronger and more able to help others. The most difficult time in my life (March 2007, my diagnosis of cancer) was incredibly painful. Seven months of chemotherapy ... feeling lousy all of the time ... weak, tired, the sense of a black cloud hanging over my head every day for 7 months ... not fun. But, as I reflect on that time, I experienced walking with God in a way that I never would have if I hadn't been diagnosed. And, I believe I've come out of that a stronger person. And, have had several opportunities to come beside others who have been diagnosed with cancer and try to be a support to them. Again, I'm not saying it's easy. Tears and weeping may be involved. But, for those that are followers of Jesus, there is hope. And, our attitude through a hard time can be "Uncommon" and point someone to Jesus Christ.
Next Week: Uncommon Actions