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Courage Has Fallen on Hard Times

Without sounding too much like a boastful dad, I’m proud of all three of my kids, and two weeks ago my youngest son gave me another reason why.

As a freshman at Indiana University, Luke is required to take Introduction to Speech.  Remember those fun days?  All thirty students were required to give a position speech on a controversial topic.  He chose gentrification.  One student chose gender identity.  Another student chose abortion.  No disrespect to his topic, but it was like the kiddie pool in a wave-pool theme park. 

With each speech, the professor asked the students to choose which side they were on and why.  When it came to the speech on abortion, the professor asked who was pro-choice, and every student raised his or her hand . . . every student except one.

When Luke told me this story, I asked him how he felt being the minority, and he said, “Dad, I think there were other students who are pro-life, but they probably caved in under pressure.” 

Why do we do that? Why do we cave in under pressure? In looking back over the years, I know I have.  I’ve been in meetings where I’ve not spoken up because I knew I held the minority view. I’ve been with friends who swayed me to do things I knew were wrong.  I’ve laughed at inappropriate jokes because I wanted to fit in. 

Courage has fallen on hard times.

In a classic study conducted by Charlan Nemeth and Cynthia Chiles, a researcher showed a group of four participants a series of twenty slides all marked with the color blue. The participants were asked to state the color of each slide.  It was an easy task, and all four said, “Blue” (The Power of Moments, 191-192).

Then the group was divided, and each participant was put into a new group with three other participants. This time the first slide was red, but oddly the first three participants called the color “orange.”  That happened nineteen more times with the three other group members insisting the color was always orange.  On average, the fourth participant, who was part of the original group, called fourteen of the twenty red slides “orange,” conforming to the majority’s incorrect view.  (The other three participants, as you might have guessed, were pre-arranged.)

In another series of tests, when one of the group participants stood up to the majority view, other group participants started to do the same.  What’s the moral of the story?  The bad news is that when no one takes a stand, most people cave to the majority view, even if it is wrong.  The good news is that when someone is brave enough to defy the majority, others are emboldened and follow suit.

In other words, courage is contagious.  Thank you, Luke, for showing your dad (and others) a moment of courage.  Now the question is, Who is going to follow?    

“When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13, NIV).

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

In Pursuit of Purpose

Laura, my wife, has been undergoing a bit of metamorphosis as of late, and I’m not talking about a new diet plan, hairstyle, or clothing budget. I’m talking about purpose.

Now that Laura and I are moving into the “empty nest” phase of life, Laura has been searching for a new purpose (her words, not mine). Some of you moms reading this may know exactly what Laura is going through. (By the way, Laura gave me the thumbs up to write about this.)

Much of Laura’s life centered around raising our three kids. Getting them to school or homeschooling them. Feeding them. Clothing them. Loving them. Laura was, and is, a great mom. From sun up to sun down, she focused on our kids’ needs, discipline, and instruction.

And now? Good question, which she has been asking a lot.

In a study on business professionals, University of California Berkley professor, Morten Hansen, discovered that purpose trumps passion. His research showed that employees with high purpose and low passion outperform those with high passion and low purpose every time. Of course, as Hansen points out, high purpose and high passion are always the ideal.

Passion is important, but purpose is paramount. Note to graduation speakers: Your best message is not, “Pursue your passion!” It’s “Pursue your purpose!”

But how do you find your purpose? Yale professor Amy Wrzesniewski conducts research on how people discover meaning in their work. She indicates that people wrongly believe they need to “find” their calling as though it is some magical entity waiting to be discovered. “She believes purpose isn’t discovered, it’s cultivated” (The Power of Moments, 219).

Finding purpose is like finding happiness—you discover happiness as a byproduct of living well. You discover purpose as a byproduct of cultivating a holistic life centered on Jesus Christ.

The more you search for happiness, the more unhappy you become. The more you live your life surrendered to Jesus, the more you discover happiness along the way. Likewise, the more you search for purpose, the more un-purposeful you become. The more you discover Jesus, the more He cultivates purpose in your life.

As usual, Laura is already one step ahead of me. She’s not sitting around wringing her hands in a desperate plight to discover her new purpose. She’s stepping out in faith and following Jesus, and her purpose is discovering her.

The challenge is clear. Purpose is not found in a life goal, target or objective. Purpose is cultivated in a relationship with Jesus. As you cultivate the character of Christ, you align yourself with His purposes, which don’t need to be discovered; they just need to be lived.

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).

Posted by Rick Grover, Lead Pastor with

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