Perspective: Are We All Still in High School?
I’d say that 9 times out of 10, students in high school have the wrong perspective.
Trust me, I know. I spend eight hours a day, 5 days a week, 10 months out of every year with high school students. I live life with them, and I see their wrong outlook on life every day.
For example, high school students tend to desire to do nothing every day at school. They beg to not do work, to not have to think, to be able to sit and veg and watch Netflix instead of doing anything remotely academic. But, ironically, if their desire to fill their day with nothing is met, the students more often than not get so bored that they complain about being non productive.
Another example of this mystery is the dreaded assigned seating chart. High school students HATE being told where to sit. They believe they are old enough and trustworthy enough to be able to make that choice for themselves each and every day, having the freedom to jump from seat to seat at will. But if given the choice to sit wherever, they tend to assign a seat to themselves and sit there every single day. This, ironically (once again), is NOT seen as assigned seats. Even if when someone takes said seat for the day, there proceeds to be ranting and raving and anger thrust upon the seat “stealer.”
For some reason, students in high school don’t understand that what they really deeply desire is structure and schedule and instruction. And, I often wonder, if they did embrace this true perspective, would their days be better? Would life from the ages of 14-18 be more embraceable? More joyous
Now, don’t get too mad at me high school student who happens to be reading this blog, the disease of the wrong perspective isn’t only pervasive to teens. I don’t have to look farther than the nearest mirror to understand that truth.
I don’t know about you, but I identify with these students quite a bit. I think I like to fill my days with time to do nothing. But then I get frustrated and bored and begin searching for things to do after a bit. And, I’m sure, like me, you walk into church every Sunday and sit in the exact same location and maybe get a bit bitter when someone else has set up shop in your seat, regardless of how many seats are open.
Seems like the disease of wrong perspective may be pervasive in all of us. So, to my high school students, to me, and to you, we must realize that the proper and correct perspective is important to attaining a life that is joyous and complete. I learned that from Paul in my study of Philippians - specifically Week 2 on Philippians 1:12-26.
Paul outlines three personal life circumstances, that from a worldly view, should create a negative woe-is-me perspective:
He is in prison for the cause of Christ. (v 12-14) He has rivals that are hoping to cause him additional distress. (v 15-20) He feels pressure to choose between death (perfect communion with the Lord in heaven) and life (helping out the progress of the Gospel in terrible circumstances). (v 21-26)
But in each circumstance, he throws the reader a proverbial curve ball by having the most positive, God honoring perspectives ever.
My imprisonment has resulted in the progress of the Gospel. (v 12-14) I will rejoice when Christ is proclaimed even if it’s through rivalry. (v 15-20) Even though to die is gain for me, to live means I will get to continue with you for your good. (v 21-26)
I’ve read these verses several times over my life, and I always walk away in awe of Paul’s perspective. And, ultimately, I also walk away thinking, “Sounds great for Paul, but there’s no WAY I could do that. I could never have that perspective in those circumstances.”
So as a result I put Paul in some category of superhuman Christian, and I am excused by default of attaining to that standard. Basically I make it subconsciously “ok” to not have godly types of perspectives because by my own categorization and comparison I am not holy enough.
Haven’t you done this before too? You see someone going through something terrible, difficult, hard, with their eyes on Christ, still living out the Gospel, and you say, “How is that possible? They must be so strong. I could never do that.”
That, my dear friends, is the wrong perspective.
First of all, the Bible teaches that through the power of Jesus, we are holy and strong enough:
“For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.” Ephesians 1:3-4 “If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” Romans 8:11
These are only a few of the verses in God’s Word that paint a picture of our incredibly bold and multi-faceted capability as believers. That through Christ’s righteousness we have been made proficient and qualified to face whatever circumstance comes our way. We have His power, we have every spiritual blessing because we are chosen, and we have the Holy Spirit in us, who is so powerful He raised Jesus from the dead.
So the lie of not being capable, of thinking that Paul’s perspective came from some level of holiness that is unavailable to me or to you is just unfounded. It is put to death by the cross and rising of our Savior.
And if we are capable, there is also one other Truth that must be highlighted. We have a choice.
Paul was human, and he could have chosen to have more of a negative perspective based on his negative circumstances. And, honestly, I wouldn’t have blamed him. But, he chose to have a positive, God honoring perspective.
In fact, Paul takes his example a step further and admonishes the Philippians a little later in his letter with this directive:
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9
He’s advising the Philippians that they have a choice to dwell on the good, to have a proper perspective grounded in the Father. And what this tells me, is that I can choose this as well.
In life I may find myself in circumstances as simple as having nothing to do or someone taking my usual seat. Or I may find myself in circumstances as complex as not knowing what my future holds or having a difficult time in a relationship. Whatever circumstances I find myself, I can be rest assured of two things.
I am capable of having a proper God honoring perspective. And I can CHOOSE to dwell on whatever is pure about that circumstance, whatever is lovely about that circumstance, whatever is commendable about that circumstance, whatever is excellent about that circumstance, and whatever is worthy of praise about that circumstance.
I can follow the model of Jesus Himself, who when He was facing imminent torture, pain, and death said,
“Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Mark 14:36
Instead of looking at my circumstances and allowing myself to choose the wrong perspective, I can look into the face of my heavenly Father, focus on Truth, and choose His perspective.
You can too. And our days will be better. More embraceable. More joyous.
Amy Bufkin has loved Jesus for as long as she can remember. Even though she basically lived at her local church growing up, her faith and relationship with The Lord was incredibly shallow until her early twenties. It was then Amy learned how to study her Bible, began to truly commune with God, and her shallow faith began to deepen as she got to know her Lord and Savior. Now her passion is to communicate the same truths that changed her life to young women in as many ways as possible. You can find her on Instagram | Facebook