When I was at Youth Alive in 2017, I learned about another youth conference: Vertical. Various reports had it that Vertical was similar to Youth Alive. Well, Youth Alive had been one of the best weekends of my life. I registered for Vertical. Enthralled by my glowing reports of Youth Alive, two of my brothers also signed up.
Vertical was held at Foothills Community Chapel, in the beautiful hills of southern North Carolina. We had a great time playing volleyball, Ultimate Frisbee, dodgeball, and breaking out of an escape room. The food was good, and the fellowship was great.
But the sessions with Bruce Lengeman were absolutely phenomenal. God took what He had taught me about identity back at Youth Alive and kicked it up to a whole new level.
Bruce spent the entire weekend speaking about identity. Each session kept ratcheting things up another notch (or three) and digging into some core issues for me.
Bruce explained that most of us do not live as God created, designed, and called us to be. We live as actors on a stage, trying to please those around us. Of course, we don’t necessarily realize that we’re on a stage or putting on an act.
If we realize that we have problems, we then try to fix our act. But that doesn’t work. The problem is not our act. The problem is that we are acting.
God wants intimacy with me–the real me. He’s not interested in my act. He doesn’t want to simply change my behaviors. He wants to change me.
I need to know, first of all, that I am a child of God. Everything flows out of that. But beyond that, I also need to know what God has called me to do. He has equipped me for a unique purpose in His kingdom, and He is happy when I walk in that purpose.
Too often, I look at what other people are doing and feel like that’s what I should be doing; that I would please God more if I was like those other people. But God doesn’t judge me based on what others are doing. God is only interested in whether I’m fulfilling His call for me.
As Bruce and his wife, Ruthie, talked about their experiences of being people-pleasers, it dawned on me that I had been raised to be a people-pleaser. Because, as I have discussed before, in my training, the Voice of Papa was the Voice of God.
But no one can take such a place in my life. Not even the most Godly, wonderful person ever. Because God did not create me to follow people. He made me to hear His voice and follow Him in the unique way that He created.
It was exactly what I needed to hear.
And it totally changed my life.
This is part 2 in a series. See also Part 1.