Stephen Jaques: A Prince Is Proud but Not Vain

Posted by in Faith,Temptation | January 1, 2013

Editor’s Note: Stephen has written a really powerful post for us to kick off this new year. He starts with light-hearted advice to his younger, more awkward self, and slowly delves into the heart of the things that he will be at risk of in high school and college. He gives excellent advice concerning the opposite sex and in fighting against idols. And he ends the piece with a powerful reflection on what it means to be a Prince. Thanks Stephen; you give us all hope and a clear path toward claiming our inheritance in God and stewarding it well.

To a younger me,

I know you. Right now you have just finished 8th grade. In a month you will turn 15 and in 3 months you will start high school. I’ve almost forgotten how naïve and socially awkward you were. The struggles you are going through still impact me today. I have so many things that I wish I could tell you but I will try to boil it down. I’ll divide it into spiritual and non-spiritual stuff.

First, the non-spiritual. Ditch the jean shorts. Get rid of them! Burn them and forget you ever wore them haha! Also, wear shirts that fit, not too bulky or too tight. You have several important places to make friends (senior high youth group and high school) and dressing well will help you avoid looking like an awkward homeschooler. Don’t judge others by their appearances but understand that people will judge you by yours; so go buy some polos and khakis and a decent pair of shoes. That said, always remember, it’s the man that makes the clothes, not the other way around. Don’t put your identity in your appearance.

I suggest learning the slang so you don’t get laughed at for not knowing the jokes and references. Learn the terms of your peers. Go catch up on your movies as well. You may have been raised in a cave, but now’s the time to start respectfully pushing some boundaries. Don’t make an idol out of parental approval.

And be excited! You have big things ahead of you! The cross country and track teams are going to be great experiences. Run hard. Be tough. Don’t be afraid to go out hard at the beginning of the race; you will be trained well enough to finish strong. Do not fear failure. Coach Clanton will be one of the greatest men you are ever around. Additionally, do your homework. I’m at UGA because of your self-discipline.

Let’s see, what else? Oh yeah, get a different summer job than Publix. They’re nice people but they won’t give you enough hours.

I know you have some assumptions about how life will turn out. Let me burst one of your bubbles. Our family doesn’t have unlimited money; so if you want a car or some other big-ticket item, you better find a job that can pay for it. You go to a rich school but don’t expect everything to be paid for by Mom and Dad. It’ll save you some disappointment if you realize that now rather than a few years down the road. But be thankful for your comfortable life. God didn’t have to give it to you.

Speaking of comfort, get comfortable with yourself but also branch out. I know you can be quiet and you are not extroverted but please go talk to people. Seriously, be aggressive in pursuing friendships. Be friendly and don’t be afraid to cut it loose. It’s fun, I promise. You have to stop being so worried about whether or not people will judge you. Perimeter’s youth group will be the hardest place you ever have to break in. But it will be worth it. God is doing great things there; and you will meet some amazing people and have amazing opportunities to serve!

College is still a few years away, but I’m going to tell you a couple things about it. First, if it’s not the greatest four years of your life, don’t worry about it. After all, it would be depressing if the best times of your life were behind you when you graduate at 23. I know you will be burned out after working hard in high school, but don’t give up in college. Push through, get good grades, and find a couple organizations to join as well as places to serve. You’ll find a special place to serve the poor and disadvantaged, but don’t forget to serve where you live, work, and play. Once again, put yourself out there and meet people.

There’s one big thing I haven’t talked about yet. Girls… I know you think you’re the only one that gets a little nervous around pretty girls, but you’re not. Most guys have felt that way at some point. Just learn to be confident. Honestly, that’s the most important part, hands down. And don’t put your confidence in anything besides your identity in Christ. Be confident because God made you exactly the way he wanted to. And remember, ultimately it really doesn’t matter if she likes you or not. But don’t be arrogant. Be positive, take initiative, and be honest. There are lots of guys out there, just trying to get as much as they can from a girl with no regard for her well-being. It’s easy to fall into this if you’re not careful. Girls are not commodities and neither are they notches on your belt. Repeat that to yourself. I used to think that I wasn’t like those guys, but now I realize that I’m not as clean as I would like to think I am. I know you fumble around with what to say sometimes so just talk about something fun and interesting. Highlight why you are special. God made you that way and it would be a disservice to sell yourself short. Humility is not thinking less of you, it’s thinking of you, less. Girls will tell you they are looking for a Nice Guy. They aren’t. Nice guys are boring and too considerate. They’re doormats and they do finish last (I know from experience). However, contrary to popular opinion, you don’t have to be James Bond, a daredevil, a hell-raiser, or the guy with the jokes to be a real man. Like I said before, be confident in your identity as a prince in the Kingdom of God. I might add, think before you speak. That goes for all of life but especially here because she might hear something you didn’t intend to say.

Alright, that was a lot of stuff; but relax man. Have fun with it! If it’s not fun, you’re probably doing it wrong. You’ll get better with practice. Don’t sweat it bud. God’s got your back. Revel in that freedom. You are accepted by Him who frees you from every other opinion. Now let’s get to some of the serious stuff.

If you miss all of the above, don’t miss the things I’m about to tell you! They are so important. Words cannot show the passion with which I am writing! First, you may grow up thinking that staying away from sex, drugs, and alcohol makes you a good Christian; but that’s not true. The main sin you should be worried about is idolatry, which means making something into a god. An idol is something that becomes a part of you; it’s something you think about a lot; and losing it is devastating to the point of despair. God is concerned about the allegiance of your heart, not just behavior. There are those that are worse and those that are worse off. You are in danger of being worse off because you think you are well. Being a, “good” person doesn’t make you any better than the stereotypical party-animal. Watch out for the little idols of Success, Mrs. Right, and Self-Image. You’ll learn they all serve your deep idol: Approval. And I promise that serving it will never fully satisfy. Stop trying to get it from your peers, parents, girls, random people, and God. You’ll never get enough from the world and you can’t earn it from God. Approval is already yours simply because God made you His. You can’t improve on it by performing. God is not a vending machine where you can spend Jesus Points to get the things you really want in life. God is the prize, not His blessings.

Can I tell you something? It’s not about you. God didn’t give you salvation just so you could live your life and go to heaven. He didn’t just save your soul. He also wants you to participate in the restoration of the world through word and deed. It’s not an optional activity either. Go bless people!

Lastly, I have some thoughts on being a Prince of the Kingdom of God. I know you perceive yourself to be less of a man than what the world requires, so let me show you why you can have confidence. A Prince of God’s Kingdom represents the most powerful authority in the world. That power is to be used to pursue justice and mercy for everyone, especially the weak. A Prince is bold and confident because he represents the King of Kings. A Prince is proud but not vain. He knows his immense value but is not consumed by this knowledge. A Prince is a steady leader who takes initiative, looks out for others, heeds wise council, and then makes a decisive decision to act. He is not intimidated by others because he is secure in his identity as a Prince. He projects the strength of the King (which is not always physical). He comes not on his own authority but that of the One. And a Prince isn’t overly concerned about public opinion because he has the full support of an unshakeable King.

You are this Prince! Carry yourself as one. Stand a little straighter because Jesus calls you friend. Get to know your Lord, Savior, Master, and Friend. Talk to Him like any other friend. Tell Him everything, even when you’re mad at Him. Walk humbly with Him (trust me, neither you nor I, have it all together) and you will become this Prince. Be free because He loves you and He’s walking beside you! Never forget that.

Stephen Jaques, 22

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