On potential

Less than 24 hours separates the birth of our oldest granddaughter, Briley, and our oldest grandson, Colten. And in the blink of an eye, they are both graduating from high school this month.

When they were both babies, you could hold them in your arms. At that moment, you could envision the potential they both possessed to fulfill God’s purposes for their lives. When I see a new baby, or a student completing educational milestones, 2 Peter 1: 3-4 splashes across my mind: “His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. By these, He has given very great and precious promises.” The potential of God’s purposes in their lives is beyond our comprehension or imaginative capabilities.

As parents and grandparents, we haven’t a clue as to the specific purpose God has in store for them. A parent’s responsibility is to train children in the basics of life, namely 2 Peter 1:5, “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection and brotherly affection with love.” Of course, you can’t teach what you haven’t learned. But we do know that adequately training our children holds the greatest possibilities for fulfilling their potential.

Having these core things right helps a child, or now a graduate, avoid chasing after frivolous things that won’t matter a whit in the context of the few years we have on earth. There are plenty of distractions that can take a young life off the rails and on to a detour.

Too often I’ve heard graduates speak these phrases: “let the good times roll;” “party time;” “freedom” (from parental watch care); “sleep as late as I want and go to bed when I want;” or, “I’m on my own now and you can’t do anything about it.” What these grads misunderstood was, their parents’ responsibility for them transitions from parent to counselor or mentor.

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Before the grad becomes overwhelmed with adult responsibilities, or faces a loss of character due to a few moments of stupid, we must be ever vigilant to remind them that the signature of the Lord is integrated into every person’s DNA. Consequently, in all a person does, we encourage them to fear the Lord and live to worship Him with their whole life, their actions, attitudes, and words.

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Life is like a rosebush, with amazing potential and – with soil, water, fertilizer, and a little care – it bursts into the bloom that brilliantly paints the landscape. Human potential is inherently like a rosebud ready to blossom.

What are some key ingredients to help a person maximize potential and bloom for the glory of God?

1. Seek—In the very middle of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught the truth about how to gain a satisfied life. He said, “But seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.” Let’s not be confused or distracted. Seek to make Him known. Honoring Him is the number one priority of a purposeful life that pleases God.

2. Give—Jesus says, “For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will find it.” As Americans, we often think we meet needs by simply throwing money at them, but sometimes additional resources are exactly what is needed. Giving away your money and stuff is easy compared to giving yourself away. From a worldly perspective, it is never convenient to trust God. Faith means we acknowledge our insufficiency and live like our Lord is sufficient in all things. It is interesting how families and churches tend to accomplish the most with generous hands, hearts, and wallets.

3. Trust-God delights to direct our steps. Proverbs 3:5-6 reads, “Trust in the Lord with all you heart and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways and He will guide you on the right paths.” The plan and purposes of God are not mere expressions of divine recommendations. Relying on “our own understanding” has a way of bringing a lot of brokenness and grief into our lives for decades. But when a person’s thinking is in the context of, “What would the Lord have me do?” or “What does God’s Word say?” it is amazing how one great decision leads to another great decision, and then to another, until there is a whole string of good, godly life decisions that unlock the potential of a person’s life.

4. Love—John 15:12: “This is My command; love one another as I have loved you.” Jesus commanded people to love. Why? Because love is hard sometimes. I’m not talking about the preppy, gooey mush kind of love. But authentic love is a love that gives away without expecting anything in return. It creates a debt of love that no one can repay in a thousand life times. Love that seeks the highest good for the object of our affection.

When this potential is unleashed, the world’s business and political leaders marvel at the impact of our lives. However, the opinion of others doesn’t matter as much as the countenance of the Lord saying, “Well done!”

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