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Stepping into October and a new season can be exciting, but it can also mean the beginning of new challenges in and out of school. Signing up for sports, clubs, or other extracurricular activities is a great start, but feelings of inadequacy, inexperience, and inability might be creeping in and trying to diminish our self-confidence. This month, let's focus on confidence – both in ourselves and in God – and work on reflecting that confidence in groups of our peers. And an important factor in working in groups, whether it is on a field or in a classroom, is forgiving, which is discussed in the Hot Topic on Forgiveness. And since the Bible is a great tool for guidance, we will look to I Thessalonians. (All citations are from The Message version of I Thessalonians).
With the first few weeks or so of school behind us, we can focus on being settled in classes, with friends and classmates, and in extracurricular activities. Finally, routines are starting to solidify! However, the everyday awakening to an alarm clock followed by the same bells of switching classes and then back home or to practice may become too routine. We must "not sleepwalk through life," as mentioned by Paul to the Christians in Thessalonica (The Message I Thessalonians 5:6). Take charge of each day and celebrate!
Two great starts to make each day fuller and brighter are at the heart of Paul's message.
First, we must be "sure of ourselves in God" (The Message I Thessalonians 2:2). As I leave the house everyday, especially on days that I am nervous or anxious about taking a test or giving a speech, my mom reminds me to "give a good time." By walking into a situation – with a smile – ready to give good instead of waiting to receive good, we are going with God. Feeling that we’re going to fail a test or lose a game is not putting our trust in God and allowing us to see the good. Being confident of ourselves and our actions, which can make a day at school or practice more enjoyable, is reflecting the surety, grace, and ability of God.
Second, after we are sure of ourselves, we can focus on not seeking "crowd approval" but only "God approval" (The Message I Thessalonians 2:3). By being true to ourselves – ultimately God – we don't have to become bound by our peers' negative comments or actions. But it is also important to remember that even our peers are children of God. They are equally trying to seek "God approval" but may be struggling with making good choices. As Paul said to the Christians, some people have "made a career of opposing God and have gotten mighty good at it" (The Message I Thessalonians 2:14-16). These people need to be loved and continually surrounded by the good.
With self-confidence – confidence in God – and without succumbing to crowd approval – only God approval – we can live each day to its highest sense of good. And throughout each day, we’ll be thanking God for his love, support, and open arms.
"May God our Father himself and our Master Jesus clear the road to you! And may the Master pour on the love so it fills your lives and splashes over on everyone around you, just as it does from us to you. May you be infused with strength and purity, filled with confidence in the presence of God our Father…" (The Message I Thessalonians 3:11-13).