Spiritual Habits of a High Schooler
By a High Schooler
Written by Joseph Simpson
These thoughts were written by my 17 year old son during his senior year as he thought through the habits necessary to mature into a spiritual young man. In his own words, these are his ideas for spiritual habits.
Many high schoolers desire to improve, if not radically alter their relationship with the Lord and others. Yet, it’s difficult to pinpoint specific ways to accomplish this communication. Fundamentally, this dilemma can be deciphered by applying spiritual disciplines. Developing an intimate friendship with Jesus Christ through prayer, worshipping Him, surrounding ourselves with Godly friends and sharing our story create the spiritual habits needed for growth. All of these daily patterns equip a believer to grow close to God, mature in wisdom, and use their gifts to bring glory to His name. My desire is to inspire fellow high schoolers to implement these disciplines, ensuring a remarkable transformation in their daily walk with the Lord. As we know in I Samuel 16:7b (NLT), “…People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart..” What does God see in my heart?
Spending time with God is by far one of, if not the most important discipline. In order to have a growing, thriving relationship with the Lord, we have to begin by actually spending time with Him. Every strong relationship is founded when spending an abundance of time with one another. In the same way, our desire should be to dwell in his presence constantly. There are a plethora of ways that we can spend time with God. Reading our Bible every day is a great place to start. Listening to messages and reading deeply into a passage will offer insight. However, really determining to think through the scripture that is read offers true potential for growth. Letting God’s Word stay on my mind throughout the day after I have read it is the simple concept of meditation. According to John Piper in “Pursuing a Passion for God”, he reminds us that “Reading is the exposure to Scripture – and that’s the starting place – but meditation is the absorption of Scripture.”
In addition to reading the Bible, praying is an essential part of worshiping and drawing near to him. It is commonly said concerning intimate relationships, that communication is key. Prayer is often viewed as a religious ritual rather than a means through which to spend quality time with our friend Jesus. Often, people are intimidated by the idea because they honestly just don’t know how.
Here’s a suggestion, begin with thanking Him. Acknowledge His character, and the astonishing masterpiece of creation He designed. Recognize who God is by praying the names of God or His characteristics. Pray the specific words of a Bible verse. We tend to only remember God when lousy events occur, yet throughout your day take time to recognize how He has blessed you unexpectedly. The following step is to ask God. We can’t expect God to answer prayers if we don’t bear our requests before Him. Keep in mind that God isn’t a Santa Claus sort of God who will deliver a new car or a girlfriend to our front door. God always answers prayers, although it’s not always the answer we expect. The third way in which we can pray is to ask forgiveness. Belonging to Christ doesn’t make us perfect or sinless, regardless of how much we read our Bible and pray. Thankfully, through God’s grace, we aren’t sacrificing lambs on an alter anymore, however we still need his forgiveness. We receive pardon simply by asking it of Him. As you end your prayer, take a moment of wow. What has the Lord done to favor you specifically? Contemplate the beauty of His creation, and what He has done for you. Speak your gratefulness.
Another integral part of living for Christ is worshiping Him. Worship is most commonly equated with a band leading praise songs on a stage. However worship should be much more. Although a multitude of ways exist in which we can praise God, the question looms, “What is worship?” Worship, in the context of Biblical worship, is expressing adoration of God. Think of it as bringing a smile to God’s face. We exalt Him when we serve others and spend time in His word, as well as when we sing songs of praise. He is incredibly glorified when we are most satisfied in Him. This guides us to the question of “Why do we worship?” God does not need our worship. In fact, He existed for all of eternity past without our praise. So what is our purpose in worship? Our worship should be an announcement of the inexpressible joy that we hold in Him. He created us for the simple reason that we might obtain the joy He experiences through his divine relationship with himself. As we study the Bible, we recognize the honor of communicating intimately with the creator of the universe. When focusing on who God is, His right place in my daily life becomes clear. So, worship when you serve. Worship when you pray. Worship when you sing.
One of the most challenging spiritual disciplines is choosing the right friends. We constantly strive to meet the approval of others, and often the affirmation of the “wrong crowd.” It is extremely challenging to find friends who are focused on God. In order to gain Godly friends, you have to be a Godly friend. It has been said, “You are the combination of the five people you spend the most time with.” Who are you hanging out with? Can you see their behavior (good or bad) through your actions? It can be depressing when you don’t have ether approval of others, but the question I ask myself is whether or not my friends possess God’s approval. The advice that I have been given, and I will pass on is this; “Run straight for the Lord, and keep running, and running, and running. Every now and then take a look to the left and to the right, and see if anyone is running with you.” It’s difficult to remove people in your life who you care deeply about, but trusting in the Lord always ensures success. I am not suggesting that a mature Christian cannot grow beside all kinds of people. As I ask God how to operate as the hands and feet of Christ, I engage in the work of walking through each day with my eyes wide open. As I look for others to touch with God’s love, I am compelled to invest in the lives of many who I do life with daily. My contention here is that properly selecting committed friends grow you spiritually. Quality friends often develop where you are serving God. They are “running” beside you.
Sharing Your Story
As a high schooler, once prayer and worship are part of your daily routine along with Godly friends, determine to share your story with others. What can be more impactful than your personal journey of how God saved you from eternal torment and delivered you into His arms? We are all inspired by the testimonies of great men of God who lived former lives of sin, yet were rescued through His grace. Many of those who have grown up in the church, and faithfully followed God believe their testimony is not “interesting”, or that it is not impactful. I personally believe that it is more incredible to see what God has kept me from falling into, rather than what He has pulled me out of. Often your unique account of how Christ impacted your life functions as the turning point for many people. Share your daily patterns Share the struggles you battle daily. Practice authenticity. Create a personal connection, as well as valuable insight into the spiritual conflicts. Living a spiritual life is hard. Be transparent. When you know you are loved by God, it is easier to reach out to others and communicate God’s love. Maturity in your relationship with God establishes confidence by knowing you are deeply loved by the creator of the universe.
Using Your Gifts
Lastly, a mature Christian utilizes his or her God given gifts. One guarantee is that the devil is a liar. One of the many lies he poisons us with daily is this; “I am not good enough.” Let me be clear, we are not “good” enough to get into heaven. No amount of effort qualifies entry into heaven. God sent His Son to die as the ultimate payment for our sins. While we are not “good enough” to get into heaven by ourselves, never is there a point in time which we aren’t “good enough” to accept His free gift of salvation. However, the devil paints us a picture in which we have sinned too much, we are without hope, and that we don’t have any gifts to use for God’s kingdom. Listening to his lies prove toxic.
Everyone has gifts. Some have very visible gifts such as athletic talent, or singing abilities. Others possess the gift of encouragement or hospitality. Each one of us reveal unique ways which glorify God. “To whom much is given, much is required.” This absolutely proves true for spiritual gifts. God expects you to reciprocate the blessings He has given to you by finding outlets to use them to worship Him. Some things are true. Experience incredible blessings by using your one-of-a-kind gifts to impact others for God. It’s an incredible thing to approach a complete stranger, and introduce them to the Lord, but I find also infinite joy in welcoming a close friend into God’s family.
So, how will you apply these spiritual disciplines to your daily walk? Determining to know Christ by prayer, worship, Godly friends, sharing His story in me, and activating my gifts for His glory all lead to maturing me as a high schooler who desires to be Christ-like.
I have found that by pursuing a relationship with God, the rest will fall in line. Begin by indulging in His presence, and spend intimate time with Him through prayer and study of his love letter (Bible) to us. When we pursue his presence, it creates a desire within us to worship and glorify Him. Honoring Him creates an appetite to have friends who also seek to be like Christ. Lastly, possessing friends that bear the same spiritual cravings as us will cause us to recognize that we do indeed have gifts. Gifts that can profoundly impact others’ lives when we seek to share the good news of Christ. I am drawn toward the immense love that God has for me. These daily habits bring me closer to the one who created me and loves me more than anyone. I am drawn by His great love for me. The joy in living for God cannot be experience by any other pursuit. Doing these habits will not make me more Christlike, but being by acting on what I discover will transform me. So, each day I pursue God because He pursues me. Most importantly, spiritual disciplines continue to wholly transform my relationship with the creator of the universe (who happens to be my friend).