First of all, be mission-driven. Give yourself entirely to the gospel. It is not just a message that we pray to receive for salvation, it is the life God gave to you when you gave up yours to him. To embrace the gospel is not only to embrace Jesus’ death, but it is to embrace the life that Jesus demonstrated for us. If you have truly embraced Jesus’ life you will lay your life down to see others connected to him as well. Never become a selfish Christian who enjoys the benefits of adoption into God’s loving family but who never learns to sacrifice his life for it. Remember: The needs of the lost outweigh the needs of the found. Because you are in Christ, you already have every blessing in the heavenly realm – you have everything you really need. But Jesus demonstrated what our attitude for the lost should be when the good shepherd left the 99 to find the one sheep that was lost. The entire narrative of life, including your life, is this pursuit of the lost. Let nothing – including good things like doctrinal study or service, distract you from this ultimate purpose for all of God’s children. Do not be discouraged by God’s own children; many of them will be your biggest sources of discouragement, so don’t be surprised by that or let that discourage you. Being mission-driven requires true manliness, so be a man!
Second, never waiver when it comes to the Bible. It is God’s inspired Word for us, and it stands true forever. Culture and popular opinion will constantly malign the Bible and its value. People will look for ways to discredit it. But the Bible stands the test of time. Study it fervently. Know it. And when you think you know it, study it more. God’s Word is alive and God uses it to transform our lives day by day. Those who have abandoned the Bible in their attempts to make a difference in the world have become irrelevant. God alone holds the solutions for this life, and he has revealed them to us in his Word. Never be ashamed of it. In times when you don’t understand the words or even God’s ways, be willing to admit that. But never be ashamed of it. Humble yourself to its authority and live your life by it. Let it be the lamp unto your feet and the light unto your path and strive to live the life of purity it prescribes.
Third, live a life of grace. Come to appreciate the grace that God has bestowed upon you. Really get ahold of it – how sinful you are and how loving God is. Never lose the wonder of just how forgiving and patient and encouraging God is. Never become a religious person. Never become like the people who annoyed Jesus the most – the Pharisees, who knew only to judge those they disagreed with. Learn to separate the sin from the sinner. Recognize that we are all part of the same fallen humanity and capable of the same crap. Extend love and grace always. There will be times when you need to reinforce God’s rules with people, but even in the times when you need to be stern, do it in love – do it to benefit the person, not to make yourself feel better somehow. Extend grace to yourself as well. You are not perfect. But be honest with yourself and do not use grace as an excuse to satisfy your sinful nature.
Fourth, never stop engaging the culture. Always be relevant. Have the wisdom to discern what is essential about your faith and what is not, and like the Apostle Paul, be willing to do everything outside of sinning to connect unbelievers to God. Do not become like the people you are trying to reach, or you will become irrelevant. People are looking for someone different to follow, someone who looks like Christ. And Christ was a friend of sinners, criticized by religious people for eating and drinking with them. Live the same way. Get over the discomfort that sometimes accompanies associating with unbelievers. Look for ways that you can connect with them. Instead of condemning, try to understand why they do the things they do and why they enjoy the things they enjoy. Then you will gain insight into what their heart really craves and will know how approach them with the good news of Jesus.
Fifth, be committed to teamwork. God never intended for you to do all of this on your own. You can’t. But God has surrounded you with good people who will sustain you and partner with you. Don’t look for perfection in people; you won’t find it. Don’t expect for everyone to think like you. Whenever two people are exactly the same, one of them isn’t necessary. Learn to value the differences in people, even the people who annoy you most. God made them for reasons just as unique and important as those for which he made you. Work together with other believers as far the God’s Word and conscience can allow you. Agree to disagree when you must. That is okay. Never let differences distract you from the ultimate mission we have been entrusted with.
Sixth, and finally, keep it real and have fun. Never become something just because someone expects you to. God has given you his Word and also his Holy Spirit, and his inner voice will tell you when you are not living with emotional honesty. God will not lead you to be someone other than who you really are. There will be very trying times ahead, and life was never supposed to be easy, but through it all, keep checking your emotional barometer. You need to keep laughing and enjoying the life God has given you. God humour is a sign of good faith.