Adam gets up every morning and eats an average breakfast and brushes his average teeth. He puts on his average clothes, combs his average hair, hops in his average car and drives off to his average job. Most of the time he has an average day in which he engages his co-workers in average conversation and puts in an average amount of work. He returns home to his average house where he lives alone and engages in his hobby of selling stuff on eBay for an average of three hours a day before going to bed. But on a recent Sunday, Adam heard a sermon at his church that made him wonder if maybe there is more to life than what he’s currently living.
As the interviews and video clips played on the screen above him, Adam saw young men just like him getting off the couch and into the game — volunteering their time and energy to make a difference in the lives of children around the world. He saw young single men just like him feeding the homeless, caring for orphans, and leading kids in songs of praise to God. This sparked something inside of Adam, and he wondered if God might be calling him to get involved in something similar.
Adam was right.
If we are honest with ourselves, many of us men can relate to Adam’s story, can’t we? We are just getting started in life. At times, we feel a little aimless. Sometimes we can even feel hopeless. We feel, well … average. In these moments, we would be wise to learn from Adam’s story. There is more to life than what many of us are experiencing today. We were created for much more than simply making an indention on a couch. We were created to make a difference. The question is: Are we doing what we were created to do?
I remember when I began to wrestle with this in college. I had been a Christian for a while, but this season opened up a world of possibilities to serve that I had never known. One such opportunity was to go on a spring break missions trip to Panama City Beach. While most of the other college students around us at PCB were getting drunk and trying to find their pants, my friends and I were serving pancakes, offering free van rides, and talking about Jesus every chance we had. Sure, we got some pushback and questions, but something about it just felt right — like we were making a difference. It felt like we were doing something that mattered. And we were. It felt good.
My friend Nathan who lives in the inner city knows this feeling as well. He intentionally moved to a “hard place” for the purpose of living among, caring for and sharing Jesus with its people. Sure, it’s hard work and there is risk involved, but he can lay his head down every night still hearing the laughter of the children he made smile and know that he is doing what God is calling Him to do. He walks with a peace, purpose and power that most Christians long for.
And you can, too.
As I write this article, I think about where you are in life. You are likely young, single, and have so many great paths before you that you may not even realize. You likely don’t have many things that could hinder you from doing something radical for Jesus. In fact, this is one of the reasons why the Apostle Paul commends the benefits of singleness in 1 Corinthians 7:32-34a.
I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided.
Naturally, Paul is not condemning marriage, but rather, pointing out some of the obvious unique benefits that the single season offers. As someone who has been single and is now married, I can testify to the truthfulness of these words firsthand. Listen to this old married guy: You will never have as much freedom to travel, take risks and “go big” for Jesus like you do now. Kids and a minivan make it harder to jump on a plane and go … well … anywhere. So make the most of this unique season as a young man seeking to live for Jesus. Get off the couch and in the game! The Coach has put you in the game for the big play.
Hopefully, at this point, you’re thinking, OK, I get it. There is more to my life than my Xbox, but there is so much need in the world. I’m not sure where to begin. Allow me to offer a few suggestions to get you pointed in the right direction.
1. Start where you are: your local church.
Bill Hybels once said, “The local church is the hope of the world.” In many ways, he is exactly right. A healthy local church carries with it a multitude of opportunities to change the course of someone’s life and eternity. For example, two ministries that are often overlooked by young men are teaching children the Bible in your children’s ministry and visiting the sick and widows. And you don’t need a seminary degree or be the next George Mueller to make an impact in these areas. You just have to be willing. And by the way, guys, women think it’s awesome when a guy is good with kids. Just sayin’.
2. Volunteer in your student ministry.
If working with small children or seniors seems like too much of a stretch, consider volunteering with your church’s student ministry. Every youth pastor I know is always looking for quality volunteers who are willing to pour into the lives of both high school and college students to teach them about Jesus and about life. Again, you don’t have to be a “Super Saint” to pull this off. You simply have to be willing to serve and remember what it was like to navigate these often stormy seasons of life. I guarantee that you could be more of an asset than you think. And you would still get to play lots of Xbox.
3. Get involved in the effort to end sex trafficking and human slavery.
Over the past few years, there have been several particular pressing problems that have bubbled to the top of the evangelical conscience. The tragedies of sex trafficking and human slavery are two such issues. While this is often a banner carried by young women, there is no reason why godly young men shouldn’t be horrified by these practices as well and advocate for their end. Organizations like Out of Darkness provide numerous pathways for involvement, ranging from prayer to becoming a speaker on their behalf. Chances are, your city or one near you has a similar ministry and would love your help.
4. Get involved in orphan care ministry.
Much like the effort to end sex trafficking and human slavery, a legitimate desire to care for orphans has also recently risen to a place of prominence in modern Christianity. Sadly, many people assume that adopting a child is the only way to be involved. This is certainly not the case. There are countless ways to get involved, from answering phones to helping in the foster care system to serving in supply warehouses. Again, a simple phone call can reveal almost countless possibilities. Also listen to this Boundless podcast for more ideas — Wait No More: Episode 196.
5. Contact your local Boys Club or YMCA about being a “Big Brother.”
Anyone who has ever been a part of the Big Brothers program can attest to the substantial and lasting impact your investment in an “at risk” youth can make. The children in this program come from hard situations and would greatly benefit from anything you have to offer. If you need any further motivation to consider this option, just imagine what it would be like for your father to be in prison and your mom on drugs. These kids need a hand that some of you are able to give. Seize the opportunity.
At the end of the day, leaving your average life behind is a choice. It is a Gospel-driven, Spirit-empowered obedience in a particular direction. The good news is, if you are following Jesus, you have what it takes. You can do it. Adam did. I did. Nathan did. And we have seen God do amazing things in response.
What will you see God do?
Copyright 2013 Dustin Neeley. All rights reserved.