An odd thing happened this past Christmas. I got a card from someone that I have absolutely no idea who it is. Over my 46 years of life, I’ve met a lot of people through college ministry and my job at Lifeway. I’m also just a very social being. However, after I opened the card and read the name, I could not for the life of me figure out who this person was. And I did what all of us would do – I went to Facebook to see if we were friends. That search turned up nothing. We were not connected on Facebook. I even Googled their name but came up with nothing.
I usually can remember names and put the name with a face. It’s something that I have worked on diligently through my years of ministry. Still, I was completely stumped with this one. And honestly, I felt really bad. For some reason, this person felt it within their heart to send me a Christmas card and I could not even remember their face, let alone their name.
One of the most basic desires of all human instinct is to be known. It means something when someone you just met remembers your name or when someone recognizes the extra effort you may have put into a project at school or work. As we have the opportunity to invest into the lives of young adults, we are able to share with them the hope and promise that God the Father knows even more than our name, but is deeply interested in our innermost hurts, joys, fears, and struggles.
The prophet Isaiah reminded Israel of God’s power in not only forming them and redeeming them, but also knowing their name in the midst of their trials and struggles.
“Now this is what the LORD says—
the One who created you, Jacob,
and the One who formed you, Israel—
‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name; you are Mine.’” (Isaiah 43:1, HCSB)
As young adult ministry leaders, we have the opportunity to remind young adults that they are known on a personal level and not for their accomplishments. They are known because God loves them. They are known because God created them. Here are a few reminders that you can share with them about being known:
- God loves you as much when you fail as when you succeed.
In this high-pressure world of ours that places so much emphasis upon success, young adults put a lot of pressure on themselves to be the best at everything. And when that pressure is constantly looming over their shoulder, it can take a lot of joy out of the accomplishments and the work itself. Inevitably, there is going to come a point that failure will step into the picture – it can be devastating. However, when a young adult knows that identity does not rest upon the success or failure, but in the fact of being known, he or she can navigate that in a much healthier manner.
- Being known by God allows you to see others as known as well.
It’s a unique thing. When we are not out trying to prove our identity and getting our name out in front of everyone, we’re given the freedom to place value upon others. When we know who we are, we are much more likely to encourage others to know who they are. God gives us great confidence in our identity when it is placed in Him, which then allows us to see others in a more compassionate and loving kind of way.
- Being known develops a trust that leads to deeper obedience.
As young adults navigate the journey of following Christ, they will be faced with decisions and choices to follow Christ in a deeper way through deeper obedience. When we rest in the knowledge that God knows us from the passions of our hearts to the fears that sometimes stall us, we can confidently make a seemingly radical decision. We can take a step of faith because we know He is trustworthy.
What a joy to be known by a God that is concerned with the details of life – even if I can’t remember that person’s name that sent me a Christmas card. What other areas would you add to this list?
Mark Whitt is the Collegiate and Young Adult Specialist at Lifeway Christian Resources. Before joining Lifeway, he spent many years on the campus of Murray State University as a campus minister. Connect with Mark via Twitter.