As Christians we are called to be set apart from the world around us. To be different. Then again, we are simply teenagers and as a generation we enjoy being “different”. It’s in our nature. Well, The Heart of Teens blog team also enjoy being different and so we would like to present to you 18 ways that you can strive to be different than those around you in 2017. (We will be different by making sure we have one more thing than everyone else). Have fun and try some of these out. Be different this year.
1. Find a ministry to give to – Christian
Okay, so maybe you’re a teen or a young adult (or maybe you’re an adult) and money is not something that you have been blessed with a lot of. Maybe your income is very small or nonexistent. Why then would I include such an irrelevant thing as this? I have found that tithing is not really an incredible sacrifice—I treat it as a duty more often than not. It does not kill me to give 10% of my paycheck, because I just naturally consider that amount to be my tithe; I view it much like I would view paying a phone bill. However, when I give to someone or something outside of the church, it takes so much more sacrifice. That is money that I could have spent on myself. This is not to say that you should not tithe or that tithing is lame, but rather to challenge you to try find a ministry that you can give to. Maybe it’s giving a little bit each month to a missionary, or connecting with a ministry that is trying to raise money for a project and giving a one-time gift—whatever you can find to give to, I strongly encourage you to pray about doing that. To give you just one cool idea, I would consider partnering with a friend or a group of friends to support a child through Compassion International. Just a thought. #bedifferent
2. Give Grace – Brianna
To be given grace, quite simply put, is to receive something you don’t deserve. Giving grace, is doing something for someone even though they don’t deserve it. I think I can speak for all of us, when I say that this can be so hard. As sinful humans, our instinct is to treat others how they treat us. If they’re rude, we want to be rude back. If they’re kind, then we want to be kind towards them.
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1-2 ESV)
Through Christ we gained access “into this grace in which we stand”. Christ has given us the ultimate grace – salvation. Just as Christ has granted us grace, so must we grant grace as well. I want to encourage and challenge you to be this kind of difference this year, and even beyond 2017. I want you to give grace, just as Christ did. No matter how hard it may be, no matter how much someone doesn’t deserve it – give grace.
3. Develop Intentionality in Reading God’s Word – Travis
How often do you read God’s Word? If you’re anything like me, you’re probably cringing at this question, feeling guilty about all the times that you have chosen other priorities over spending time with God. And while this lack of prioritization is a serious problem, there is something that I believe is of even greater concern: our lack of intentionality, enthusiasm, and attention when we do read God’s Word. When we read the Bible mindlessly (without care), we open ourselves up to the deception that we’re in a healthy relationship with God, that we’re fully prepared to combat the tactics of Satan. This is not the case. In reality, we’re merely developing an attitude of apathy and disrespect toward the Bible, subconsciously hardening our hearts to what God’s trying to teach us. So be different in 2017. Make it a priority to read God’s Word consistently, but more than that, to read it intentionally and attentively. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
4. Be an Encouragement – Krys
In today’s society, it feels as if the popular logic is “every man for himself.” Modern culture has accepted this popular but misguided concept to the point that it has become numbed to the reality of human emotion. This is why it is so important that we daily practice lifting each other up. With social media, especially, it can sometimes be tempting to post or share a hateful comment to those in our lives whom we don’t particularly like. However, Scripture tells us in Proverbs 21:18 that, “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” (ESV) You see, God even tells us in his Word that uplifting words and encouragement can have just as big of an impact as hateful words. This is why it is so important that we stand out from today’s mindset and be a light of encouragement to those around us.
5. Make Somebody’s Day – Brandon
There are a lot of little things we can do to change somebody’s day. Little things that may not mean much to you but could change the lives of the people around you. Go ahead and ask somebody what their favourite song is and ask them why. More than that, go home and listen to it until you understand it. People don’t go out of their way for other people, so if you do, it could change a life.
6. Journal Your Christian Walk – Annesti
I’ve found that more and more I am able to see God’s greatness and faithfulness by looking back at my own walk. Write down personal struggles and ways God are helping you overcome, write down when a scripture encourages you and how it impacted someone you shared it with. Write down when you walk a road with someone else who is struggling… Jot down your journey with the Lord so you can praise Him when looking back.
7. Be the Christian Music Freak – Kendal
I’m not sure about you, but I don’t know a single person who doesn’t love music. Music is one of the most important things in my life, and trust me, I couldn’t live without it. But I’ve found that Christian music doesn’t have the most amazing reputation, and granted, the songs my Church sings aren’t the type I’d play when I’m chilling with my buds. However, this isn’t true for all Christian music…there are actually amazing (I’m talking, cray cray) Christan tracks of almost every genre; Pop, Jazz, Country, Orchestral, and even Metal! What’s surprising though is that it isn’t crazy well known amongst teens… I personally didn’t realise good Christian music existed until about a year ago. So where do you start? A good place would be to check out the yearly released WOW Hits albums. They feature some of the best Christian jams out there and trust me, you’ll never look back!
8. Treat Your Body Correctly – Elri
I don’t know how many of you are familiar with 1 Corinthians 6:19 that speaks about your body being a temple of God. I feel like it is always used to in connotation with “look after yourself”, “stay pure”. So, for this post I am going to do the cliché thing and discuss (very briefly) taking care of your body. Oops! The point is though, no matter how clichéd this kind of post seems, especially on January the first, it has merit. It became cliché for a reason. Because we never seem to listen! Our bodies are precious, they are gifts from God, given to us to use while we reside on earth. Now the basics have been drilled into us since we were little. Bath, brush your teeth, wash your hair and so on. I would hope most of us have gotten those parts down by now. But there’s more. Like eat healthy, drink water, exercise. Yes, these are important, but for reasons other than just living up to the expectations of society. Its important because God meant for us to be set apart. Living a healthy lifestyle requires discipline and self control. As Paul says in Galatians 5:22-23, one of the fruits of the spirit is self-control. This doesn’t mean you need to run a marathon every day and eat only carrot sticks or protein shakes, because let’s face it, not all of us are built for that. But it is important to try in this new year to be different, to drink more water, go for a walk, or leave the store without that extra donut!
9. Love Hard – AJ
Something that scares me about our generation is the issue with loving people as much as we can. You know what, it really won’t kill your image if you send the first text message. I promise. Get over being “cool” for a little while and love others as much as you possibly can (disclaimer: I don’t mean be creepy though, don’t start stalking someone and use me as your excuse please). When someone hugs you, let them be the first to let go; when you are talking to someone, don’t be afraid to tell them how cool you think they are; and yes, text that person first if you want to talk to them. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Think of others more highly than yourself. Give grace. Love hard.
10. Write out your prayers – Christian
This is something that may seem kind of random, but it has made a huge impact on my prayer life. I have recently been taking a little notecard (or a sheet of notebook paper, depending on how long the prayer is going to be), writing out a prayer, and then taping it up on a wall. It is cool because now I can look at my “prayer wall” and see that God has answered so many prayers and has been with me all along my journey throughout this year. I have not been perfectly consistent—there are not hundreds of notecards up there like there would be if I had been totally consistent. However, doing it frequently—as frequently as I can—has been incredibly beneficial to me. So consider writing out your prayers this year. #bedifferent
11. Get OFF Your Electronics – Brianna
I obviously wrote this on a laptop… and you’re obviously reading this on some type of device. Reality is, a lot of our lives happen on our electronics. I’m a writer and blogger, so a LOT of what I do involves my computer. But I also LOVE to just exist, to just be in the moment. Sure, that sounds cheesy… but I’m serious. I’ve found that when I take a step away from my electronics, I’m able to experience life in a whole new way. I’m able to enjoy the little things, and my family more. Sure, there is a certain level of happiness you can obtain from checking your Instagram or Snapchatting your friends, but it doesn’t quite compare to the spikes of joy you feel in your heart when you’re able to find that same happiness in the weird places in life, or in the every-day things. I would really encourage you to get off your electronics for a while – try something new, spend quality time with your family, or just go on an adventure by yourself! Don’t settle for the norm… I dare you.
12. Set Realistic Goals and Follow Through – Travis
You wanna know one of the biggest ways that you can be different from 99.9% (okay, maybe slightly exaggerated, but you get the point) of the world’s population in 2017? Set realistic goals and actually follow through. As good as our intentions may be, when we set unrealistic goals that we can’t meet, we damage our confidence, feel like failures, and ultimately, often give up completely. Would it not be better to set goals that are more achievable and succeed than to set impossible goals and quit altogether?
13. Give When It Costs Us Something – Krys
When was the last time you gave to someone? Probably not that long ago. But when was the last time you gave something that cost you? Better yet, when was the last time you gave sacrificially without complaining about the cost? I don’t just mean a five-dollar bill. I mean a certain thing that means something to you. This is an action that many people today wouldn’t really think about doing. In fact, today’s society would prefer to do something I like to call, “giving within our comfort zone.” This means, we take pleasure in giving to someone in need, as long as it doesn’t take anything away from us. After all, our possessions mean a great deal to us; as does our time. This mentality strongly contradicts 1 Timothy 6:17-19 which states, “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.” (ESV) Here is what I challenge you to do. Surprise someone. Step out of today’s mindset and show love to someone by giving them something that costs you. It might be hard and a bit strange at first: but trust me, it will mean the world not only to them, but also to you.
14. Talk To People – Brandon
When is the last time you put effort into talking to someone with the purpose of getting to know them? Can you think of a time? Communication between people is beyond important. Even over messenger, or perhaps Skype, talking to people is something the body of Christ should do all the time. Imagine what life would be like if your body didn’t communicate with itself. Your lungs could decide to stop working and your brain couldn’t tell them to start again. How much more then should the body of Christ, ourselves, be in tune with each other?
15. Go All In! – Annesti
If you are like me, you’re probably involved in many ministries, missions or even just some every-day happenings. Perhaps you’ve started to grow weary or ‘cold’ in them. Like it’s mundane and figuring someone else can carry the bulk of the load. Well my challenge to you is to be ALL IN for 2017! Embrace the ministries you’ve been given and serve or lead in your fullest capacity! Glorify God in the every-day.
16. Live life to the fullest – Kendal
One of my favourite blog posts is by my friend AJ who, in this post, associated the acronym YOLO (You Only Live Once) to our Christian lives. She says something along the lines of how, for us it doesn’t have the typical and trendy interpretation of “It’s your life. Go do what you want”, but more “Life is short. Use it well”. And I love that because for me, “Using it well” means to live life to the fullest. To throw away all the worries and stress that have been bogging me down. To recklessly throw my life at the almighty God in whom I have no doubt. YOLO because He is the meaning of all life and my life. Remember, our life is absolutely nothing compared to eternity, a microscopic speck on the timeline. You’re a Christian for a reason. You believe that God is the reason for your life. What better way to be different than to live life to the fullest and become a Jesus Freak?
17. Keep on Track – Elri
You need to be motivated and organized. This is another clichéd topic for January 1st. But it’s important. First order of business, to get organized: first thing, make lists. I make millions of to do lists! And I use the calendar app on my phone religiously. Writing down things you need to when you find out that you need to do them. It helps you wrap your mind around it and then there is no excuse to forget either! Next order of business, to get motivated. Or rather how to stay motivated after initial excitement wears off. Simple way, plan it all out. Have a set plan in the beginning. A certain time and place and get the distractions out of the way. Having a set plan helps me to not back out. Also, an accountability partner, have someone either do it with you or at least know about it.
18. Be a Servant – AJ
In this world, it is very easy to become “me focused”. If you want to change the world, start by serving others. Remember that even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and He did some pretty amazing, mind-blowing, earth-shattering stuff. If you want to be different. If you want to make the world a better place. Put others first, serve them and Christ. It will be huge.