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Nii Abrahams | The Pop-Culturalization of God's Calling

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Nii Abrahams | The Pop-Culturalization of God's Calling

“I’m called to be a youth pastor!”

“I’m called to be to a worship leader!”

“I’m called to be a worker against sex trafficking!”

“I’m called to be missionary to all the little kids in Africa!”

 Sound familiar?

 I have spent my entire life in the Christian bubble. Have you ever seen the movie Bubble Boy with the illustrious Jake Gyllenhaal? Yeah, that was me—but replace the actual bubble and add church camps, Royal Rangers (Christian version of Boy Scouts), Bible Quiz, “trendy” contemporary Christian Radio, and of course numerous True Love Waits rallies.

Ever since I could remember, there has always been this idea, this elusive mystery that was known as “God’s calling”. I can’t count the hundreds of hours I’ve watched my friends at camps and conferences fervently pray that God’s voice, which we all secretly hoped sounded like Morgan Freeman, would resonate in their head proclaiming they are “called to ­­______________”. If they didn’t get it, they would leave the alter defeated, as if it were stamped on their forehead that they were a nobody in the Christian faith, destined for a life of nothingness.

I, too, was one of those kids down at the alter. Although I can’t remember the specific time or place, I do remember feeling that I was called to be a youth pastor around the age of 12 (which back then meant I was going to be “cool” and all the good Christian girls would want to date me). Fast forward a few years later and a couple interesting things happened. First, I felt led to Missouri State University instead of a Bible College like Evangel University or Central Bible College. Second, it only took a semester for me to feel that my supposed calling wasn’t youth ministry but actually college ministry. Now, four years later, I am standing at the crossroads of my life, like many of you are now, quietly wondering what my friends and I meant the billions of times we claimed we were “called” to…

You don’t have to be called to vocational ministry to still be an incredibly impactful member of God’s kingdom!
— Nii Abrahams


 What does the Gospel Say?

Luke 5:10 “…Then Jesus said to Simon (Peter), “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” 

Matthew 4:19-20 “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 20 At once they left their nets and followed him.”

Mark 1:19-20 “When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.”

 

In all three of these instances we see something interesting. When Jesus called the disciples he never said, “Hey Peter! Come follow me as our song coordinator!” or “Hey James and John! We need a baptism specialist and a healing specialist! You down?!”  Jesus called these disciples for one sole purpose: to be fishers of men. Jesus, in the Great Commission (Matthew 28) left us with three commands and the first of which was to simply make disciples. I don’t know if it was ever Jesus’ intent for the modern day Church to be so exclusive in that.

In a sense, we have turned God’s greatest command to be fishers of men and make disciples into a department store. We have this section exclusively for this, and that section can only be for that—and heaven forbid that this thing over here accidentally lands in that place over there.

People still ask me what I feel called to do, and although their intentions may be pure, it almost feels like some sort of holiness gauge and my answer is a badge that highlights my spiritual level. This isn’t condemnation; we all are guilty of it! I don’t know about you, but I know I have been guilty in the past of looking down on someone who didn’t necessarily feel called to any particular type of ministry. Just because it isn’t “holy” to us, doesn’t mean it doesn’t serve a purpose in God’s beautiful tapestry!

YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE CALLED TO VOCATIONAL MINISTRY TO STILL BE AN INCREDIBLY IMPACTFUL MEMBER OF GOD’S KINGDOM!

God’s calling has become pop culturalized in the church—it has become something of a fad to claim that you’re called to a specific type of ministry.

 

Our Response

So what happens when our alleged calling becomes our identity? There are a several things that could happen:

1.    We become mentally and spiritually pigeonholed into only serving in that type of specific ministry role

2.    We allow our pride to get in the way, and consciously or not, we judge others based on what “calling” they have or don’t have

3.    We even deny going on dates or moving forward in relationships because one person may be called to be a missionary, and the other a children’s pastor or businessman (because that couldn’t ever possibly work)

4.    We feel guilty if we ever leave or our desires begin to stray from that calling

5.    We get so focused on "the call" that we miss "the NOW".

 

The reality is, God has called us ALL to be fishers of men. Now don’t get me wrong, God has also given us incredibly unique talents and passions that gives us directions and a sense of purpose. I am by no means saying that if you have a talent for music that it is wrong to pursue worship leading or if you’re great at numbers that it is wrong to pursue accounting. But what I am saying is that if you let that calling define who you are, you’ll completely miss the bigger picture and what God has in store for you and those around you.

If you have a knack for accountancy, be the best darn accountant you can be—but don’t pass up an opportunity to be small group leader just because you don’t feel “called” to teaching. If you’re passion is music, don’t pass up an opportunity to be a Sunday School teacher just because it’s not on stage. The disciples literally set down their lives and what they were occupationally skilled at to follow Jesus.

 God called us to the moment we are in. If he opens a door for you, then he's called you to be as effective as you can right there. That door may be a season where you are a youth pastor, and the next you may be a middle school principal. But whatever door He opens, whatever season you are in, your biggest “calling” is to be a humble and obedient servant.

Many of you, including myself, are entering a new phase in life and I hope this helps. I hope this encourages you to not be discouraged if you feel like you haven’t been called to vocational ministry or feel as if you have to be called to a specific ministry. At the end of the day whether we are a college pastor or professor, a worship leader or businessman, a missionary to the little kids of Africa or beautician, we are all called to share the love and hope that is Jesus Christ!

 Nii 

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His Side: Can guys and girls be "just friends"?

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His Side: Can guys and girls be "just friends"?

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Can Guys and Girls Be "Just Friends"?

Nii Abrahams

It’s a picturesque fall afternoon. Out of the corner of his eye he sees her from across the park. He notices what she has and realizes he has to have it. He immediately stops what he’s doing and sheepishly approaches. She sees him coming and begins to lock her eyes with his. As he nervously steps into the sandbox, he musters up the courage and asks: “Can I play with you?”

What happened to the sandbox experience? Do you remember those times when guys and girls had no expectations of each others’ company other than the possible risk of getting cooties (which we all knew you could easily wipe off)?

Somewhere between recess and freshman orientation we’ve turned the innocence of coed relationships into this intensely awkward samba of mixed feelings and sexual frustrations. One of the biggest beliefs that society has (especially since coming to college) is that guys and girls cannot just be friends.

Apparently, guys have this innate desire to pursue every girl they meet, and girls can’t help but fall hopelessly in love with a guy because they said “hi” to them. The only thing is that God didn’t design us to live in this tension. He created men and women uniquely — each with distinctive dispositions, perceptions of the world, and social realities. Girls like to eat spaghetti on Venus, while guys like to eat the occasional waffle on Mars (I think that’s how the phrase goes… or whatever).

We were meant to grow and learn from each other in a harmonious relationship. However, because this concept has been severely warped, it affects how we see ourselves—as objects that have to be admired by the opposite sex rather than fully understanding what we can contribute to a healthy co-ed relationship. So how can we get back to where God intended for us to be?

 

Intentionality

No romantic relationship is just randomly created. Whether you want to believe it or not, somebody either did something, said something, or acted in a way that gave the other person a green light to pursue. I’ve seen too many people on one side confused and the other heart-broken because his words claimed “just friends”, but her text message inbox inferred otherwise.

People, especially but not exclusively guys, have this habit of putting themselves in relationship-like situations with no intention of pursuing. Maybe this rings a bell — have you every invited a guy or girl to “just watch a movie” with you alone? How about going on a “simple walk”? Maybe multiple study sessions when it’s just the two of you, or even texting late into the night every night? Unfortunately, we are all guilty of these actions in some shape or form. The worst part is we act so clueless when the other person acts on those perceived pursuit signals! We don’t want to take ownership of the situations we place ourselves in. And if you find yourself in that situation, don’t think “I’m not ready for commitment” is your get out of jail free card. Take ownership and be real.

When we allow someone who we have no intention of pursuing become an emotional crutch, or dare I say, pseudo boyfriend or girlfriend, we are being deceitful and setting ourselves up for failure. Let’s face it. College students are notorious for using their friends as substitute boyfriend or girlfriend. You might know them as your “favorite cuddle buddy” or maybe even “best friend.”

Understand Unique Perspectives

I am blessed to be surrounded by an incredible community of guys and girls while at school. The best part is, I truly value my friends that are girls. In my quest for finding my Topanga (Boy Meets World), I have said and done some really stupid things. It’s not enough that I am a guy, which means I’m genetically disposed to Foot-In-Mouth Disease, but I haven’t had a lot of dating experience.

If it weren’t for the unique perspectives of my female friends, I would not be the guy I am today. Their advice on not just dating but life in general has been invaluable. Their encouragement to me and my encouragement to them isn’t flirting. It’s a genuine respect and mutual love. We both learn and grow from each other.

You see, our human nature only gives us one vantage point. Having the opportunity to see through another’s perspective is incredibly beneficial! Through that benefit we have a better understanding of what our friends of the opposite gender go through. I have had some incredibly deep talks with these girls and didn’t feel that I had to instantly pursue and marry them!

I have a hard time thinking that God created beings that were supposed to coexist in tension. When God made man and woman, he made them perfectly in his image. If we start viewing the pursuit of coed relationships as an act of worship, we will begin to restore the true intention of God’s desire for male and female relationships.

Even Jesus had female friends he had no intention of pursuing. I know we like to imagine Jesus and his disciples rolling around being holy bros while racing camels and whatever else they did back then, but in the Bible we see he deeply cared for Martha and Mary. In one account, he went out of his way to visit them, and another he showed great remorse when he saw them hurting because their brother Lazarus had died.

Like a lot of things, society has warped what God has intended to be pure. Especially in our young adult years, we are told that members of the opposite sex are more like objects rather than individuals. Guy or girl, don’t let anyone tell you that the opposite sex doesn’t deserve to be treated with the utmost respect!

Now in these co-ed friendships, we have to understand there has to be boundaries. As young adults, the level of accountability and the information we share should be a lot different than our same-sex friendships. Even more so, those relationships have to change when our friends or ourselves get into romantic relationships. I could say so much more about this, but that topic alone could be its own blog!

Knowing Your Worth

The only way we can truly allow ourselves to just be friends with the opposite sex is if we are confident in who we are. I’m not talking about confidence that comes from wearing your favorite outfit (I know we all that that one sweater that makes us feel like we’re invincible), but I’m talking about the confidence that comes from knowing that our identity isn’t dependent on other people.

When we rely on others to fulfill our self-worth, guy or girl, we use whomever we can find to attempt to fill that void. This always results in using our friends in a negative way. Having a boyfriend or girlfriend may be nice, but it won’t complete you! When we stop looking at every person of the opposite sex as a potential Mr. or Mrs­­­. _______________ , we are giving ourselves the freedom to explore, create, and utilize the benefits of a healthy co-ed friendship without having the pressure of trying to impress that person.

Isn’t that what friendship is? The ability to jam out to One Direction in your car without fear of persecution, or attempting to talk in a Jamaican accent all day long — just to be your goofy self? If who you are is enough for God, then it’s sure good enough for others.

You should be loved in your friendships.

You should be valued in your friendships.

You should be considered beautiful in your friendships.

Nii

2013-08-20 18.17.16Nii Abrahams is a Senior communication major/sociology minor at Missouri State University. He is a student leader and extremely involved in Chi Alpha Campus Ministries. He has a passion for college students and quickly fell in love with the Insecurely Movement because of its incredible impact on future families. To connect with Nii, follow him on Twitter.

 

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His Side: A Love Letter to You

 

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Nii Abrahams

A Love Letter to You

 

Dear Jen, Ashley, Rachel, Whoever You Are,

I know this is a little weird. You probably weren’t expecting a letter from me, and I myself didn’t have any plans of writing a letter to you, my future wife. In fact, this is kind of out of my comfort zone right now. I feel like a middle school boy in one of those awkward Sunday school classes where the only reason you go is because of the free donuts.

Regardless, I’m writing this for you, dear, because you have been on my mind lately. I don’t know who you are, what hobbies you have, how you like your eggs, or even how bad your breath smells in the morning. But, I do know that you’re out there, and things aren’t easy for you — especially in today’s society. There’s so much pressure on you to act a certain way, to be a certain size, to go even farther with the next guy. I’m writing this letter to you to remind and encourage you that despite all the junk around you, I’m here — praying and patiently waiting for you — and waiting to know that you actually hate scrambled eggs, and your breath really is terrible in the morning…

I’m not going to lie. It stinks not knowing where you are. I know God has a plan and his timing is perfect, but it doesn’t make it any easier. There are so many expectations for a guy like me. I should be drinking more, partying more, and hooking up with girls more. But, the reality is, I don’t want or need any of that. Just as much as you are preparing yourself spiritually, be secure and know that I am doing the same. Just know that I’m not perfect. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes and I can still act like a 3-year-old when I don’t get what I want (and not in a cute way). Be secure that with all of my struggles and trials, I am becoming a stronger man to lead our marriage, our kids, and our family. Even though I don’t know you, I pray for you every night. I pray that your love for God grows daily, you are an example for girls around you, and that you are secure in his love.

One of my favorite verses is Philippians 1:6, "Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." I love this verse so much because it’s a constant reminder that God is always growing and developing me into a man after his own heart. Be secure that God’s ways are greater than anything we can comprehend. You just have to trust that he is molding me as well!

So, here is what I need from you. I need you to keep this letter on your heart. Know that when things get tough, I’m here waiting for you. I can’t even imagine the pressure you have to constantly impress guys around you. I know you are constantly being approached and asked out (because you’re gorgeous, duh!), and I want you to enjoy and learn from those dates, but just remember you don’t have to change the way you talk, the way you laugh, or the way you ferociously eat a double cheeseburger.

If you find yourself sitting alone in your room thinking about changing all those things for a guy, then that guy probably isn’t me. If he has something to change about you now, imagine the things he’ll have to change about you 10 years from now! Before you know it, you’ve lost the original beauty of who you are. God has called us both to be secure in who we are because our identity is in Him. I want a girl who is confident in her awkward dancing, obnoxious laughing, and obsessive thrifter ways! He created you to be who you are and that’s never going to change! I’m not going to change the way I laugh at my corny jokes (because quite frankly, I think I am hilarious). I know that whoever you are, you’ll think I’m funny too!

Don’t you see? You have a heavenly father who created you so intricately and delicately that it is not possible He could have made a mistake. What you may see as quirks, I see as the little things that make me a better man. You may not like your feet, but I already love them!

Be secure and steadfast in your prayers. Just as I pray for you, I hope that you pray for me. Pray that I have the strength to lead us with integrity. Pray that I don’t let the things of the world like lust, greed, and pride bring me down. Pray that above all else, God is and always will be the center of our relationship.

For the sake of not writing a novel, I’m going to end this. I don’t want you to think I’m this overly emotional dude. I still have every intention of stealing the remote, leaving my socks on the floor, and snoring. Sorry in advance!

Just remember that above all else, be secure in your relationship with God. Let him fill you every day with his incredible grace and peace that passes all understanding. And when you feel down and alone (even when your stubborn self doesn’t want to admit it), just know that I’m here patiently waiting for you!

You are LOVED. You are VALUED. You are BEAUTIFUL.

 

Love,

Your protector, knight in shining armor, boo-thang, schnookums, and most importantly - your best friend.

 

 

2013-08-20 18.17.16Nii Abrahams is a Senior communication major/sociology minor at Missouri State University. He is a student leader and extremely involved in Chi Alpha Campus Ministries. He has a passion for college students and quickly fell in love with the Insecurely Movement because of its incredible impact on future families. To connect with Nii, follow him on Twitter.

 

 

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