Surrounded for Supremacy – Galatians 2:1-2

“Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain.” –Galatians 2:1-2

College was a time where I grew in every area of my life. I was learning every day. My job was teaching me to have a work ethic. Classes were keeping me punctual. Spiritually I was growing every day through chapel. Being in such a concentrated environment was nourishing for my growth as a budding adult.

One of the greatest lessons I learned from college was to be surrounded by people in every area of my life. I learned that to be an effective leader, I needed to mentor people, have peers, and be mentored as well. It was while I was at college that I really understood how important this was to my personal growth. My senior year, I would meet with certain professors once a week for mentorship, I would have friends I could confide in, and I was an example of leadership to those in the student body and my hall – I was Student Body VP and a Resident Assistant.

Though I don’t think this was Paul’s emphasis in Galatians 2, I think it should be noted that he has all types of people mentioned in the first few verses. He has the pillars in Jerusalem with whom he was checking his gospel. There was also God who gave him his gospel. There was Barnabas who was seen as an equal to Paul. And Paul mentions bringing Titus along. Paul mentored Titus, and Barnabas possibly mentored him as well. Not to mention that Paul’s whole mission is to share the gospel with the Gentiles. That is a lot of people whom Paul is influencing.

It might not be the foremost focus here, but Paul is trying to stress his independence while showing those who are in unity with him. There are those in places of authority who agree with Paul. There are also those who are willing to stand along side Paul and preach this gospel – even another noteworthy Jewish Christian, Barnabas. There are also those who are willing to follow Paul to learn from him.

Do you have people who surround you along your journey? It is easy to lose your direction in life if you don’t have focus. Having people in front of you that you can look up to reminds you that there are those who have succeeded. They give you credibility. Those who are with you help you and challenge you. Iron sharpens iron as you fail and succeed together. They truly know where you are, because they are there too. Having people with whom you can influence reminds you of your purpose. When you want to give up, they are a constantly telling you that what you are doing is worthy.

This is true for teachers, preachers, coaches, dentists, and doctors.

Make sure you are surrounded. Use those around you as a support system. Use them to learn. Use them to grow.


The Dreams Kept Under The Covers

At the start of my junior year of college, three of my friends decided that they were going to spend the semester and study abroad at Continental Theological Seminary in Brussels, Belgium. Two of them were really good friends of mine who previously were hall mates and roommates. The other, Hannah, had served with me on student council, but outside of council our relationship was pretty surface-level.

Before that fall, Matt, Jo, and Hannah spent much of the last semester trying to figure out all the technicalities involved with going overseas for several months. They all had to decide some time before the trip whether or not they were going. It was a big personal investment. I’m sure the decisions were tough for all of them, but I could clearly see Hannah struggle with the decision.

It wasn’t that she wasn’t sure if she should go. I think she felt surety that Brussels was where she needed to be that fall. I think doubt started creeping in when many of her closer friends expressed their opinions on her trip. Some took the selfish approach and said they couldn’t stand being without her. Some took the “good friend” approach and expressed their fear of her going. They didn’t think she could make it in a foreign land for that long. Others saw it as a pipe dream – good to talk about theoretically but not to actually go out and do.

Too many people keep their dreams under the covers in their bed, and they never walk their dreams out the door into the unknown. It’s easy to criticize someone else’s dreams when our dreams are under the covers.

Recently, I decided to do something online called the, “Start Experiment.” This is an experiment started by NYT Best-Selling author, Jon Acuff. The experiment is based off of his newest book, “Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work that Matters.” The title and experiment are pretty self-explanatory – start something new. I joined the experiment thinking that it would help me with my new-founded college-age ministry in CT.

My friend Hannah could have followed the “advice” she was getting from her friends. She could have decided that CTS was not a good idea for her. Too often people would rather join a revolution or a winning team or be a part of the bandwagon than decide to go against the grain or start a movement of their own or adventure on the road less traveled. Hannah decided she would go on the trip regardless of what her friends said.

This is the part of the story where I come in. A couple weeks before Hannah would leave, she visited campus where I was staying for the summer. We went out to dinner and shared our life stories, and I just encouraged her about her trip. I helped her feel affirmed in her decision to go overseas, and we would be great friends there after.

Hannah has since been a beacon of light for me when I needed hope. One time, during our open dorms at school, she even took the time to hide post-it notes of encouragement all over my room! Encouragement and affirmation spread like wildfire. They are like a bright light in an abyss. The friendship I have with Hannah reminds me of that.

I know this is going to sound hypocritical, but I am going to ask you to stop joining movements, and join a movement to start a movement (I know, you probably had to re-read this sentence just to figure out what I mean – Sorry).

One of my favorite things about the Start Experiment is the wave of encouragement coming from all the other people in the group. No one actually knows each other outside of cyberspace, yet there are countless posts and comments of encouragement and love and unity. These are all coming from people who are trying to start “being awesome” – it sounds like most of them already are awesome!

Start a movement. Be a light. Live your dream.