I wouldn’t worry so much about what other people think.
People’s opinions are only that—opinions. They shouldn’t dictate what I do or don’t do, especially when it comes to my lifestyle. I still struggle with this as a grown man with my own family. Once upon a time it was what kind of music I listened to or what words I used. Now it’s more like how I spend my money or raise my kids.
I’ve only been able to get comfortable looking directly to the Bible for a standard within the last few years, realizing there are lots of things church people freak out about that God doesn’t. If I had found peace living up to God’s standards instead of people’s standards, I would have been a whole lot happier and avoided a mess of trouble I got myself into.
I’d dig into God’s Word with the purpose of knowing God better.
The Bible is a great story, not just a Sunday school curriculum. And it’s alive! I was so used to hearing about and being surrounded by Scripture that I missed its wonder. It took a major breakdown before I could come back to the Bible and see that it’s so much more than lessons, theology, and morals. It’s a narrative of God’s redeeming power and love. It’s a revelation of His character and work, and the Holy Spirit speaks into the fiber of our hearts if we’re willing. The Bible was a burden before I realized this; now it’s life!
I’d dream big and not feel guilty about it.
It’s ok to do something “secular” with your life. Secular is a distinction that church people made up to protect the sanctity of the church. What it really did was create a hierarchy between “Christian” work and “unchristian” work.
What matters is whether you are able to do what you do in a way that honors God. Do you have a mind for business? Go to Wall Street. Are you an artist? Paint a picture of something beautiful (and it doesn’t have to be Jesus). Love journalism? Get that gig with the New York Times or The Atlantic.
God gave you gifts and passions so you could maximize them and He would get the glory from you, his beautiful created child.
I’d bask in God’s undivided attention and affection for me.
God likes you. I’m sure you’ve been told that God loves you, but do you realizes that He likes you? I didn’t. In my world, the theology was so big and heady that I was often amazed by God and in wonder of Him, but not close to Him.
You may have come from a background where God was talked about mostly as a judge, so you fear Him or fear displeasing Him. But God really likes you. He enjoys you as a child.
I have two little girls, and they’re much more than my responsibility. I don’t just provide for them and keep them in line. I enjoy them. They make me really happy. And I want them to know it. And God feels like that toward His children, except to infinity and with perfection.
I wouldn’t even think of giving up on the church.
No matter how much it hurt you, church is worth sticking with. Maybe it’s not the church you grew up in, but finding one where you can be honest with your struggles and hurt is worth it. Finding one that will embrace you is worth it.
Just make sure it’s a church that puts Jesus first and not you or anyone else. You can’t afford to leave the church. You need it and it needs you. Your soul was made to be part of a community of souls, not solo. Stand by the church. The Bible call’s it Jesus’ Bride, and I have a suspicion He cares an awful lot about her. So should we.
For more on serving pastors’ kids (and their families) well and the challenges they face check out my book The Pastor’s Kid: What It’s Like and How to Help.