In looking at the OLYL study today I realized a couple of things. The first is that when it comes to my needs as a human being, I am pretty well set. We looked at a list of needs that most everyone has. The list included emotional, relational, intellectual, physical and spiritual needs. I am not saying that my life is perfect or that everything always works out nice and neat for me, I am just saying that the resources are there for me. I am part of a great family, I love my church and our youth group and leadership teams. I have a paycheck that comes in twice a month, I have access to a wealth of knowledge in the people that I am surrounded by, my pastor, my books and other sources. Most importantly I have a God who loves me dearly, who hasn’t given up on a sinner like me, and sent His Son as the ultimate sacrifice for my soul. When it comes to the needs of my life, I always can have them met. The thing is, I don’t always choose to have them met. Sometimes when I am down I like to stay down in my own little shell. My wife will ask me what is going on and I go into “operation shut down”. I close up and want the world to leave me alone.
I know a lot of people just like that, especially when it comes to high school students (plenty of adults too). There are a ton of things that are going on in your life and for some reason or another, even though you know you are surrounded by people who love and cherish you, even though you know that there is a God of all Creation who wants nothing but the best for you, you try and shut them out. You have a chance for your needs to be met, yet you decide to go into your shell. Why do we do that? I think that one of the main reasons is because we like the attention. This world that we live in has made it popular to jump and scream (or in this case close ourselves off to the world) to get attention. Everyone wants to be famous, everyone wants the light shining on them. We try all sorts of ways to get attention, one of which is refusing to have our needs met. We figure if we stay where we are more and more people will eventually come up to us, ask us what is wrong, help us along the way, and after we have received the sufficient amount of attention then we can go about getting our needs met.
There are two things hugely wrong with this approach, but before we look at those, I just want to make sure you are hearing me. I know that life is tough. I know that you are going through a ton of stuff. I know that every day you need to lean on someone for support and love and kindness and goodness. You need to be built up, we all do (including me). There are needs that have to be met. I am not talking about the person that needs help, seeks it, finds it, applies it to life, learns from the situation and then goes about life until they need to do it all over again. I am talking about the person who refuses it, who has it at their fingertips (whether that is in the form of a youth leader, pastor, friend, family member, or most importantly God), but chooses instead to go on living in pain and grief. Having made that clear (and I hope that you are understanding me here), let’s look at the reasons why this is dangerous.
The first reason that this is dangerous is because we are trying to get the attention. If we are trying to get the attention then we are taking it away from where it needs to be, that is God. We want our lives to shine for Him, not for ourselves (Matthew 5:16, John 3:30). We want it to be about Him, not us. Now when we have a need that needs to be met, we shouldn’t ignore it because we are afraid that it will take away from God, instead we should go to the source of all things good, God himself, and figure out how that need could be met so that He is glorified. Kind of goes like this:
- You have a need
- You go to God to see that need met
- God reveals how He will provide for you (which might not be the way that you had in mind)
- Need is met and you praise God (glory, attention, and light shines on Him).
When our need are met, God ultimately gets the glory. When we sit back and refuse to be helped and have our needs met, we get the attention and we leave no room for God to do great things in and around us.
The second reason that this is dangerous is because there are billions of people out there that are in need of help. There are people that have needs that need to be met and they have no idea who God is. We know who God is, and when we allow Him to work in our lives through our church and relationships and everything else then we will look around and want to help others in need. When we wallow in self pity and refuse to be helped we are in effect keeping ourselves from reaching out and helping others in need. That is the ultimate in selfishness. Knowing that God is everything to us and refusing to let Him be This keeps Him from others. You see, when we allow God to do great things in our lives, He will use us to do great things in other’s lives. So, how are you doing with that? Are you letting God meet your needs through friends, family, youth group, youth leaders, pastors, Scripture and other ways? Or, are you sitting around trying to rob God of His glory and plugging up the work that God would have His people do in the world? Look around, see what God has provided for you. If you are struggling to come up with things come and talk to me, I would love to help you see them so that you can reach your full potential in serving others in need.