Check out the original post on Anthony's blog, stuffgradslike.com


If your eyes jumped to the title of this post, then this is probably for you. 

The natural trajectory of most jobs for college grads (well, really all, in a sense) is that you will leave them! If you have a degree, it’s time to make a step into the direction of doing something you love, and not staying in something that you just tolerate in order to pay the minimum requirements on your credit card to Nordstrom’s and/or student loans.

If any one of these signs applies to you, then it just might be time to reconsider your job. Here are 5 big ways you know it might be time to look for another job, stat.

1. You Dread Coming In 

Are Sunday afternoons the most stressful and anxiety-filled times of the week for you? Do you look forward to Friday afternoons more than the Ninja Turtles look forward to a drippingly-delicious New York pizza? 

Check out the original post on the main man Anthony Moore's blog, stuffgradslike.com


I work in an office with a bunch of guys. They’re cool. We have a dartboard and stuff. I’m terrible.

But I was thinking about how one could connect with coworkers more. You know? More than just the Lakers-are-still-sucking and did-you-go-out-this-weekend stuff. I guess I’m a guy who just likes getting a little deeper.

I’ve worked in a lot of places – a bookstore, a bar, a barn (well, Pottery barn) – and I’ve been around a variety of different coworkers and work environments. But how to connect? If you’re like me and you work full time, these are the people you’re around with more than all of your family and friends – at least 40 hours a week, from morning till evening, 5 days a week. Even if you work part time, there’s still the challenge to connect with and relate to a unique group of people that you’re around a lot, who all come from very different backgrounds.

1. Building Trust 

I have a confession – I’m not your typical partier.

Don’t get me wrong though, I love to party. I have a mean Michael-Jackson-spin that will leave you wondering why I’m still not Justin Timberlake’s backup dancer. But ever since I started working in college, I would always shy away from these big “parties” and “ragers” that all my coworkers would go to.

It got to a point that, I’m sad to say, my coworkers wouldn’t even invite me because they knew I wouldn’t go – and they were right! Lame. Lame to the max. They had no idea who I was, and I had them pegged down to a T. At least I thought I did. 

You've had another long day. It's Tuesday evening, and you're exhausted. You have so much homework to do after 6 hours of classes today. Work was even more boring and uninteresting than ever. That coworker of yours is making you dream of the day when you hand in your 2 week's.  

What do you do when you get home?

Maybe you trudge inside, grateful to be home again. You throw your backpack down, and head straight for the fridge. You might grab a snack, and fall onto the couch, point the remote and recline as you watch Sportscenter, Jersey Shore, or How I Met Your Mother reruns. Maybe you take a nap. 

You get some dinner, hang out with some friends, come back, do some homework, browse on facebook/tumblr/stumbleupon, and go to bed around midnight. You sigh as you lay in bed, because you know it's all going to happen again tomorrow. 

How far away is Friday? 

This cycle is not uncommon among students and grads. It's tough getting filled up when you're so busy and beat after a long day, with everything going on. It's tempting to think that if you only had a boyfriend, he could hold you and cuddle and tell you you're great, and that would solve things. If only you had a cute girlfriend to come over and make dinner with you, then you'd feel happy. Fulfilled. Not anxious, tired, exhausted, defeated. Stuck. 

The Never-Ending List

The list of what we go to in order to get filled up is so enormous, there's not enough space for them all. Food. Drinking. Sex. TV. Football. Porn. Gym. Naps. Friends. Family. Boys, girls, clothes, takeout, clubbing, movies, COD, the Big Bang Theory, the Kardashians, skating, jogging, online shopping drawing, writing, fantasizing, hating, loving, cleaning, living, working. 

What's funny is that a lot of these things are good; they give joy, excitement, laughter, and relief. But at the end of the day, when you go to bed, you're not happy anymore. You're not satisfied. You wonder why other people seem so filled up, so fulfilled, so content with life, but you're not. It's even worse if you're Christian, because there's this unspoken pressure to be happy and joyful, right? 

You worry, you scheme, and you resolve to do something about it. But you don't, and nothing changes. It's because some these things, though fun and interesting at first, don't last. 

In the bible, Jesus once told an exhausted, clueless young woman at a well one day these words
"Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will will become in them a spring of water welling up into eternal life." 
The woman innocently assumed that he had some super healthy, ice-cold gatorade from some shop down the street somewhere, and asked him for some so that she wouldn't be so thirsty. Honest question - she was tired, exhausted, and thirsty, so she wanted some decent water, just like anyone else would. She didn't realize Jesus wasn't talking about a gatorade. He was talking about Himself.

The Answer (Spoiler Alert) 

He was telling this woman (who essentially represents anyone, ever, including you), the answer to all her problems, the solution to her perpetual unhappiness, ambition, and thirst: that she wasn't going to find it. Not where she was looking, anyway. 

Response pause: would you say either 1). I don't believe you, 2). you're stupid, of course I can get satisfaction from these things, now or eventually at least, or 3). Well, tell me the answer, then, because I'm so unhappy!

One of the greatest lies in history is the notion that we will ultimately find ultimate satisfaction when we finally get _______ (fill in the blank). MarriedBuff90k a yearHave childrenA girlfriendDown to 115 lbsBench 325 lbsYou name it. Jesus is saying something really crazy - that anyone who feels somewhere deep inside that there must be more, have hope: there is more! And more is me.

That true happiness, fulfillment, and the quench to that thirst comes only from Him. 

So what do you do when you come home? It's an important question, for anyone. Do you spend time quality time with God? Worship Him, tell Him you're thankful? Read some scripture, maybe? Here's a list of some great spiritual disciplines to think about trying one day

I really think that if you're like this poor young woman at the well, and you ask Jesus what He means, then...well, I can't promise you that you'll remain in your cycle of dissatisfaction. In fact, you just may be taking the first step into a life full of untold adventure, miraculous meaning, and ultimate satisfaction that you can't find with anyone or anywhere else. 

---- Anthony Moore is a Content Writer and SEO Specialist at Spread Effect. He has a degree in English from San Diego State and a cool blog for college grads, stuffgradslike.com. He loves writing, blogging, and drinking strong coffee in the morning, and the afternoon too. Mostly whenever it's available. 
The fact is, students don't know much about what life after college looks like or feels like. Over the past few years Faith@Work has been a broker of relationships and conversations between students and Christian professionals. The following is a sneak peak into a conversation I've been having with Kai Burtyk-- listen to her practical, common sense wisdom to get you started right. 
Finding and Living Into Your Calling:

As a junior in high school, I had my own idea of what success looked like: go to college in San Luis Obispo and major in Journalism. However, God had plans to rearrange my plans. I thought my life was over when I didnt get accepted to Cal Poly SLO despite my 4.0 GPA. In Fall of 2008, I enrolled in Grossmont community college, and ultimately graduated from San Diego State with a Business Degree in Marketing. It was during those transformative years that God worked on my heart and truly showed me what it meant to trust Him. Looking back, I can hardly believe how many opportunities that I would have missed if I had I followed my own plan; including finding the love of my life. My advice to anyone who is going through a life changing transformation would be to PRAY PRAY PRAY! Never underestimate the Lord, and He will never fail to come through for you in ways that you never imagined!

Thriving Spiritually In the Workplace:

As a recent college graduate, you face a daunting task: launching your career and finding that dream job. When seeking out companies for employment, you must not only consider benefits and compensation, but also company culture and ethics. Oftentimes as Christians in the workplace, we are faced with moral "gray areas", where God's desires and the ways of the world intersect. To thrive spiritually in your walk with the Lord, it is absolutely essential to find a support group within the workplace. Meet for morning Bible studies once a week before work. Grab lunch with someone you can mentor, or who can mentor you. Make the Lord a priority in the workplace, and He will make sure that everything else falls into place!  

-- Kai Burtyk is a recent graduate from SDSU with a degree in Marketing. She's launched her career at Collaboration Reverberation, a full-scale creative agency in downtown San Diego, as an Account Executive and Communications Planner.  

-- To contribute to the conversation and write for the Faith@Work blog, send us a note about your background and topic of interest.

In 2009, Tom Brady, the quarterback for the New England Patriots, had an interview with 60 Minutes. He was having the year of his life, and everyone wanted a piece of him. 

At 30 years old, he was quickly becoming recognized as one of the NFL's greatest quarterbacks of all time. He had just received his 3rd Super Bowl ring, and the ink was still fresh on his $60 million dollar 10-year contract with the Patriots. He was unofficially named one of the world's most eligible bachelors, and later that year, he married Victoria's Secret supermodel, Gisele Bundchen. Tom Brady had everything he had ever wanted, and indeed, more than anything anyone could have asked for.

That's why viewers around the world were stunned at his response when asked what he thought of life right now:

"Why do I have 3 Super Bowl rings, and still think there's something greater out there for me?" Brady asked, shrugging. "I mean, maybe a lot of people would say, ‘Hey man, this is what it is. I reached my goal, my dream, my life.' But I think, God, there's gotta be more than this?"

I think Tom Brady is an especially interesting case, not just because he has an average QB ratio of 99.1 (look it up, and you'll see how ridiculous that is), but because he has basically everything that your average guy could ever dream for - lots and lots of money, fame and recognition, power and influence, and a hot wife. Plus, I mean, he's the quarterback for the Patriots. I don't like the Patriots, but hey, I can't deny they're good. 

Tom Brady has everything the American culture says we should strive for, from A to Z, checked off with designer gold stars that sparkle. He's one of the best players ever in a sport characterized by strength, manliness, and domination. He's married to one of the most attractive and well-known supermodels there is

He has enough money to pretty much buy whatever he wants, whenever he wants. He can't go to a restaurant without everyone around him begging for an autograph and a picture. Even if you don't like him, you have to respect him. The guy's a legend. 

So when Tom Brady wonders what else there is, I mean - c'mon. I just can't help but think: 

what am I doing all this for then? 

Here's a little peek into some of my biggest aspirations, as your average American recent college grad guy:

1. Pay off all my student loans
2. Get married and start a family someday
3. Get a high-paying, fulfilling writing job
4. Write a best-selling adventure novel series
5. Traveltraveltravel 

Those are just a few. I also want season tickets for the Boston Celtics, but I live on the West Coast, so I'm still working on that. I also want a decked-out black and yellow F-150 truck. Guest starring on Community would be sweeeet. Anyway. 

When I look at Tom Brady, I see that he already has all that, and more. A lot more. And for me, when I hear him say that, with everything he has, that there still has to be something more, I mean...that just puts everything kind of on-hold for me. You know? Isn't getting out of debt/landing a dream job/having a 6-figure salary what it's all about, Tom Brady? 

I think I have to credit Brady, a man who has it all, with identifying something that deep down, we all know and feel, but don't quite know how to put into words. It's weird and countercultural and just about every billboard and commercial we've seen says otherwise, but we still feel it, and I think Brady nailed it. I think he nailed this idea has been around since the dawn of time, the idea that money, fame, and success simply isn't everything. It's more than the cliche, it's a reality. 

One of the first and most famous depictions of this is recorded centuries and centuries ago in the Book of Ecclesiastes, chapter 1:

"Meaningless! Meaningless!
says the teacher.
Utterly meaningless!

What does a man gain from all his labor,
at which he toils under the sun?
Generations come and generations go, 
but the earth remains forever. 

...There is no remembrance of men of old,
and even those who are yet to come
will not be remembered
by those who follow."
Have a nice day!

Not the most uplifting article you've read today, is it? Everything is meaningless. Nothing matters. We all die someday. O.K. man, take it easy. This article isn't meant to make you get all down on the futility of life, it's meant to point to the fact that we do all die someday, and what we do with our time here really, really matters, if you make it matter.

I don't want to make you feel that becoming a CEO or owning a huge industry is wrong; I want to encourage you that life isn't, and shouldn't be, about being Tom Brady. I don't think it's all about getting a hot wife, traveling 8 weeks out of the year, and dominating everything you do and making millions doing it. 

When Tom Brady, the man who has it all, thinks there's more, the smart people will stop and listen, because he's already got what everyone is trying to get and you should probably take a minute of reflection to see what you're aiming for. Can you imagine making 6 figures, being able to travel wherever and whenever you wanted, never worrying about money, and still be unsatisfied? Sounds completely ridiculous, right? Well, watch his interview. Maybe there is something more. 

Maybe we should take a look at what we're striving for. I would hate for you, and for me, to maybe even finally become that wealthy, powerful entrepreneur, or that famous supermodel, after years and years of all-nighters, hotel rooms, and airports, and think, 


...is this it?"

---- Anthony Moore is a Content Writer and SEO Specialist at Spread Effect. He has a degree in English from San Diego State and sweet blog for college grads, stuffgradslike.com. He loves writing, blogging, and drinking strong coffee in the morning, and the afternoon too. Mostly whenever it's available. 
It's finally here: the beginning of the end. Your last semester of college. If you haven't already posted a status about it, well, you're one of the few. 
It's a big deal! And it seems like the biggest deal is the question you keep hearing, now more than ever: "What are you going to do now?" 
You've undoubtedly (well, hopefully) heard from friends and mentors that life after graduation will be tough, but manageable; that you'll find a job, move out, and start getting a paycheck. But, there are a few things you must do and not do this semester if you want to separate yourself from the massive, wooly herd of graduates in a few months. Here's your guide to prepping for the biggest cliff you've ever jumped off - college graduation. 

1. Start Applying For a Job, Now
Got a resumé? The majority of college seniors don't have a lot of experience with real-world jobs, namely that the hiring process may take some time, and most of the good jobs are announced around March. Whoa! Fortunately, even if you don't (or if you just need to polish yours up), there are plenty of resources on how to create a professional résumé and cover letter. 
Summer internships, seasonal positions, and even full-time jobs typically begin when the summer starts, and countless grads are left staring intently at their empty inboxes during June, July, and into August wondering why no one is returning their applications. It's because all the positions have been filled! 
Beat the rush and start applying for jobs before you get swamped with finals, and before the influx of applications comes flooding through the week after graduation. 

2. Perform a Self-Evaluation
With the average college student loan debt reaching a whopping $25,000 dollars and climbing, many graduates face some tough questions: "Can I afford to move out? Will I be able to get a job? How can I pay off my debts and actually start life after college?" You don't need to have all the answers yet, but the sharpest college seniors will create a plan for the months of fall and winter. 

You should start planning the 2nd half of 2013 now. Many grads face the end of their lease and dorm room inspections before being shown the door in May/June. Start asking yourself: "Where will I live (friends, roommates, family options)? What job market do I want to tackle first? What do I even want to do? Am I even on track to graduate?" (I've had one or two unfortunate friends who realized in February that they still needed another 3 units!). 

3. Create (and Finish) a College Bucket List
This is it! You'll probably never have another chance to sleep in until noon and stay out until dawn when you start working full time. Take this chance to do what underclassmen are too scared to do and upperclassmen are too busy to do. Here are some ideas to consider:

Pull an All-Nighter
No curfew? No problem. Call up some of your best friends with a movie trilogy and 5 pizzas while you laugh so hard at 4 a.m. you can't think straight. Grab some extra jackets and go exploring downtown's best 24/7 breakfast joints, and don't come back until you've spent all your money. Throw a Mario Kart video game tournament, winner gets to keep the Super Nintendo. Something swcheet like that. 

Big Events
Look, go buy some Lakers tickets. Stop reading this article and look up when your favorite band is playing live next - everyone says the Chili Peppers are ballin' live. Buy a badge for Comic Con (or be extra slick and volunteer for free). Fork over the cash - you won't regret it.

Road Trip
No college experience is quite complete without piling into a car and driving up the coast and back. Grab 3 or 4 buddies, plan out a weekend (or weeklong) trip to San Francisco, making stops in the big cities along the way. Don't forget your camera - anything that happen on a road trip. 
You have 4 months. This is it - your final college semester. Make the most out of it, and try something new. Maybe that means signing up for a Sailing class (although be careful not to capsize on the first day); perhaps it means making some changes to your debit card by not eating out every day anymore. For others, it may mean to simply lock down and pass Organic Chemistry, at any cost. 

Whatever it is, have fun! This is the only last-semester-of-college you'll ever get. Make the most of it. 

-- Anthony Moore is a Content Writer and SEO Specialist at Spread Effect. He has a degree in English from San Diego State and a sweet blog for college grads called stuffgradslike.com. He loves writing, blogging, and drinking strong coffee in the morning, and the afternoon too. Mostly whenever it's available. 

Deep-frying the turkey, playing flag football with the neighbors who still live at home with their parents, cleaning the house for your nitpicky aunty-- there aren't many holiday traditions as treasured as the one where parents flip the switch during the holiday meal and OUT their kids:
"So, tell us, what are your plans for after graduation?"

THE QUESTION!!! It's a total setup. Why? Because you don't have a clue!!!

The part that is so frustrating for most college students is that their parents are literally CHANGING in that moment. The same parents who just a few months before sat down with you to help you pick out your classes, the same ones who help you get your utilities set up in your apartment, and the same ones who've been paying for everything, or at least as much as they could, are now ABANDONING you to figure out your own life!!! What??? That's not supposed to be the deal.
Okay, maybe it's not as radical as I made it seem, but still THE QUESTION that you're going to get asked during this holiday season is a question so loaded with power, implication, pressure, and anxiety that it will ruin your holidays unless you figure out how to respond well. 

That's what this Parent Hackers Guide is all about- coming up with an answer to STOP the questions and actually flip the conversation around to be helpful. We're going to describe a little bit of the dynamics that are happening underneath the surface, and give you some tools and a process to go through that will empower you to give a great answer that includes your parents and builds towards personal conviction and clarity. 


The Hidden Dynamics

There's a psychological framework called Transactional Analysis (fancy term) that describes the different roles we play within family relationships, and it helps describe the complexity and confusion we tend to get into. 
Looking at the chart to the left, you'll see the three different roles that we will play over a lifetime, juxtaposed with our relationship with our parents. When we're young, it's natural and healthy for us to play the role of the Child, while our parents Parent us. It looks like:

Mom: "You need to pick up your room before you go to bed!" (Parent)

You: "No! I didn't even make this mess, I'm not doing it!!!" (Child)

As kids enter the teenage years, you'll start to notice that many of the conflicts that have been happening between you and your parents have been about the tension between these roles. As teenagers we feel like we should be able to be free to make Adult choices, while our Parents recognize that we don't have the maturity yet. Conflict. 

Then, when you get to college, you are mostly free to make your own Adult choices- when you study, when you go to sleep, paying some of your bills, choosing what you eat and when you eat and how, etc. You feel and act like an Adult. But then you go home, and your parents demand to know where you're going and when you'll be home, and they start asking you when you're going to study for midterms, and tell you to clean up after yourself, and.....Conflict.  Although you see yourself as an adult, they still see you as their Child, and while you naturally want to have an Adult-Adult relationship with them, the way they talk to you forces you down to respond like an immature kid. And your trips home become more infrequent and shorter. 

So, here's the connection to THE QUESTION. When your parents ask you about your plans after college, they're actually asking you an ADULT question, and they're looking for an ADULT response. It might sound like they're treating you like a child, it might feel like that, and you might have Childlike feelings: fear, anxiety, confusion, uncertainty, and the longing for someone else to take care of you. You're going to be tempted to respond like a child. Here is what that sounds like:

"I don't know, Dad, do you know what you're doing when you retire?" (deflection through humor)

"I don't know- none of my friends know, either." (refusal of responsibility)

"I'm actually thinking of taking some time off." (delaying maturity)

"I'm praying about it." (I have no clue)

Your Poor Parents

Here's what happens to your parents when you give responses like those:
  • They panic. They recognize that you're on the verge of a maturity cliff, and all that they've put into you and cared for you is about to be put to the test. They're wondering: Did we screw up?
  • They feel angry. They didn't have the luxury of delaying getting a job and paying bills, and they feel envious and angry towards you. (Yes, this is ironic because the way they've raised you has actually contributed to you not yet making life decisions)
  • They feel anxious. They're worried that you're going to make mistakes. They're nervous that you don't have the life skills to enter the workplace. They're anxious that you're not going to find your way or always depend on them for everything. 
A Better Way

There is a bad way to have this conversation, and a better way. I want to give you a few things to think about BEFORE someone asks you, and a few Parent Hacker tips to get you through the holidays unscathed. 

- Anticipate the question. You know it's coming. 

- Prepare a response. Assuming you don't know what you're going to do, consider one of the following responses (feel free not to quote me!):
"You know what, thanks for asking. I've been spending a lot of time thinking about that question lately, and I totally recognize that now's the time to figure that out. How did you decide what to do after college?" (and then really listen!)
"I've narrowed it down to three options. I'd actually love to get your input sometime soon, could we set up a time to talk about it? I need help deciding what makes the most sense."
"I've been feeling really anxious about that, I know that I'm graduating soon, and honestly I don't know what I'm going to do. But, I've got a plan to walk through a process to figure it out. It's through InterVarsity, and it's called Faith@Work. It's a program designed specifically for college seniors to discern who they really are, what they're designed to do, and then equips them with tools and resources to get started in career. They even have access to professional mentors who'd be willing to talk with me and maybe even open doors for me."
"Well, I'm planning on doing ________, unless something drastically changes. It's what my major naturally sets me up towards, I'm good at it, and I have heard that there are jobs in that field."

- Name the dynamic. It's really helpful when someone just names what's actually happening- "This is a really serious conversation- I feel anxious just as you ask! And I can imagine that you're feeling anxious for me, too, right?" Do what you can to act like an Adult, and invite them to treat you like and Adult, not like your Parent.
- Include your parents. They've gone through a lot more of life than you. They actually do know what they're talking about- whether that's from their mistakes or otherwise. Learn to ask them about what they did when they were your age, and humbly ask them what they would do if they were you.

- Carve your own path. No matter what family you're from, it's going to be important for you to make Adult decisions and decide what you're going to do with your life. Listen, acknowledge your parents desires for you to choose a particular path, and respectfully share why you think a different path will be better for you. Then listen some more, in a non-defensive posture. 

- Take the initiative. If you know THE QUESTION is coming, whey don't you punk your parents and bring it up with them? The point isn't to get them off your back, but to step more into the Adult that you're becoming. Taking initiative is one of those things that Adults do :)

- Decide on a process. Make a timeline for yourself, and put it into your calendar. When you're going to make a resume. When you're going to visit Career Services. When you're going to spend a couple weeks diving into who you really are. When you're going to start informational interviewing. Share your plan with your parents and ask for input.

Now....pass the gravy. 

As we seek to start dynamic spiritual conversations with the people that we are drawn to, it’s important that first we:
  • Experience God’s love and acceptance towards us, and live out of that
  • Be filled with God’s love towards others, shown through our instinctive prayers for them
  • Live an authentically real and open life with others
Now, thinking externally and directionally towards others, let’s explore what it looks like to practically and tangibly demonstrate God’s infectious love. 

The message that Jesus taught, that God's way of life was now available here and now on earth to all who chose to align their lives with Him, was constantly being demonstrated as Jesus lived life with people. 

To some, he brought physical healing. To others, emotional healing. For those who were cast aside by society as rejected, he befriended. For those who stopped believing in themselves, he gave hope. Every person was different and had different needs, but he met each one as he was guided by God his Father. 

For every encounter Jesus had with people who were open to him, he deposited an experience of God's love in them and around them. Sometimes, he didn't lead with words, he led with actions. Every time, though, sparked a spiritual conversation. 

What would it look like for you and I to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, and demonstrate God's love towards them in creative and unexpected ways?

What could it look like to strategically and proactively demonstrate God's love? To create experiences, offer gifts, share invitations, recognize accomplishments, encourage the discouraged, celebrate milestones, send notes/texts/emails that communicate God's love?

Before we start spiritual conversations, it's important that we live the message. I love Young Life's phrase: "Earn the right to be heard." 

Let's be so serious about demonstrating the love of God before we start talking about it. Talk, we know, is cheap, unless reinforced with consistent behavior. By the time we're hoping for our conversations to turn towards spiritual matters, wouldn't it be cool if our lives sparked such curiosity that people responded to our questions with, "You know what, I was dying to ask you about that....!"?

What's something you could do- right now- to demonstrate God's infectious love towards someone else? Take a few seconds to get quiet, and ask God WHO and WHAT....and don't wait for the WHEN because it's right now.

I want to know the real YOU. I want to know what makes you tick- what fires you up, what irritates you, what makes you laugh and what makes you cry. I want to know if you've had a good day. And why. I want to know if you had a bad day. I care about YOU. 

So do people who you're intentionally becoming friends with to express the love of God towards. They are NOT interested in a contrived, everything is happy, life-is-always-good version of you. They aren't interested in you "becoming all things to all people" by pretending to like things that you don't have any interest in, or doing things that you don't like to do. They want to know the real YOU. 

In this third post of a six part series on Starting Everyday Spiritual Conversations, we're going to take a look at what it means to live your life in an authentically passionate, honest and humble way, and allow God to use you to impact others. 
If it's true that you and I are "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14) then apparently it's no accident that we are the way that we are. If it's true that God knew us before we were born, and "prepared us to do good works" (Ephesians 2:10) 

And if we are the way that we are then we must have purpose and a design behind who we are: personality, sense of humor, skin color, born into our family, at this point in time, with our unique story. 

We are the way we are because God wants us to be the way we are.

And if we are made the way we are then God must want to use us the way we are. 

Not the way somebody else is. Not the way I feel like I'm supposed to be. 

Just me. 

Just you. 

Do the people around you know the real YOU? Do they know how quirky and weird you are? Do they know what you want to do with your life? Do they know who you're voting for? Do they know who your favorite team is? Or what your favorite movie is? Do they know about what or who has hurt you?

We don't really become friends with other people until we start letting our guards down. (That's why road trips, retreats, and living together are so bonding- we just can't keep up the pretending for very long). 

God wants to use you. Not the you that you think you're supposed to be. Not the you that you think other people want you to be.


So before you start spiritual conversations, stop acting and start pretending like 

One of the things I've discovered over the years when I've made the decision to start a spiritual conversation with someone who doesn't share my faith is that they react more to my attitude and heart posture than to the things I'm saying. I might be saying clever, intelligent, and interesting things, but when I've started conversations out of arrogance or obligation- it overpowers the message. 

Our body language gives it all away. Amy Cuddy's TEDTalk dives into the significance our non-verbal messages send to people and how even split second "tells" give away our true disposition and attitude. No matter what we say with our mouths, if we don't actually believe it others will know- every time. 

In short, if you're not motivated by love, it's probably not going to go very well. 
Why is it then, that so many times I've been encouraged to "just do it" and go tell someone the gospel message, even if I'm not feeling it? Is there really more value to me growing into a courageous mindset than the potential damage my lack of love can have on someone else's heart? Although it's tempting to believe that God is so powerful that He will overcome our deficiencies and spiritually take over every time, when I listen to the things Jesus taught and look at the way he demonstrated the gospel message, he seems extremely intent that my heart be in the right place. He longs for us to be motivated by love, too.

There's a great conversation that Jesus gets to in John chapter 5 with the Jewish leaders after he heals a guy who'd been an invalid for 38 years. The religious authorities are really upset that he 'worked' on the sabbath, and even more so when Jesus equates the work that he does with the same work God the Father does. In other words, Jesus comes out and says that he and God are the same. 

When he's challenged (aka persecuted) Jesus has this response: "the Son can do nothing by himself, he only does what he sees the Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does" (John 5:19). 

Jesus is motivated to act because of what he sees God doing. 

Not because he's obligated to.

Not because he feels like he's supposed to or has to. 

Not because he was afraid someone someone would accuse him of being spiritually shallow if he didn't.

Not because everyone else was doing it and he didn't want to be left out.

Not because he felt distant from God and wanted to rekindle the fire in his heart.

But because God's love was overflowing towards this man who's been suffering, and Jesus sensed that same flow of love coming out of his own heart. He only acts when his Father acts. He only says what the Father wants him to say. 

Before you and I rush into a spiritual conversation, let's take a minute to uncover our motivation. If you're inspired to start a spiritual conversation because you authentically sense God's presence, feel drawn to that person, and desire them to have an encounter with God- then rock on. 

If you don't, check yourself before you wreck them.

If you don't, then take a few minutes to spiritually align your heart to God's heart. Picture that person in your mind. Ask for God to help you see them the same way He sees them. Take time to imagine what their lives could look like if God was fully present. 

You'll know your heart is ready when you sense affection and acceptance for them. You'll know you're ready when praying for them comes easy to you.