Realize Who’s Opinions Matter Most

how do we love godNo matter where you go or what you do, you will eventually encounter people who do not approve of you. You have probably heard it said a thousand times that “You can’t please everyone,” but you might not realize how true and relevant this statement is. It took me a long time to realize this, but it is impossible to make everyone approve of the way you are and the things you do. Unfortunately, even after realizing this truth it is difficult to balance the desire to please with the inability to please everyone. I have found that the best way to find that balance is to figure out who’s opinions about you matter the most. I disagree with those who say that you shouldn’t care what people think; you simply shouldn’t be affected by what everyone thinks.

I find it helpful to classify the people in my life by the degree to which I allow their opinions to affect me. The first and most important group consists of the people who’s opinions can change me. These are the people that I trust and that are closest to me. They include my family, girlfriend, and closest friends. When they disapprove of the things I do, they are aiming to make me better, not tear me down. Be very, very careful about allowing people into this category. When you let the wrong people change you, you lose track of who you are in the process.

The second type of person is one whose opinion can affect my mood, but not my personality or my actions. These are people who I know and am familiar with, but they are not very close to me. When they have a negative opinion of me, there may be good or bad intentions behind it. They may upset me with their opinions, but they cannot change me. Do not let everyone who is friendly with you have the power to change you.

CTA button for Blog UGThe third and final type of person is one whose opinion cannot affect me at all. This group includes anyone I don’t know or know very little. When people like this disapprove of me, I ignore them. Negative opinions from this type of person should be brushed off and ignored. There is no reason to let someone upset you or change you when they do not know you or have your best interest in mind.

It is liberating to understand that few people’s opinions of you should really be very important to you. Enacting this concept in your life will help you to stop stressing over what people think of you, and you will expend less time and energy trying to gain their approval. Only be truly concerned with the opinions of people who have your best interest in mind; all other people’s negative opinions should mean little, if anything to you.

Staying Productive During Summer Vacation

Nyack College summer breakWarm weather, clean sheets, and home cooked food…Summer vacation is finally here! Now that finals are over, it’s finally time to rest. For most of us, all we want to do is eat, lay down, and watch T.V. It’s fine to do that for a little while, but it can be easy to let relaxing and eating become the extent of your summer activities. Here are a few tips to help you get off of the couch and stay productive during summer vacation:

1. Work! When you want to go to the movies, bowl, eat at a restaurant, or do anything else that isn’t free, having a steady job makes these activities hurt your wallet less. Many employers will take on college students for a few months while they are home from school. Outdoor jobs that are only available during the spring and summer will often look for college students as employees. I have life-guarded for almost five years, and I have always had a job waiting for me when I come home from Nyack College. Even year-round jobs will sometimes hire seasonal workers. Stay persistent and consistent during your job search. My dad always tells me that once you apply somewhere, you should call the place regularly until they give you a definite answer. This may seem like you are being a nuisance, but it is showing the employer that you are persistent and consistent. It never hurts to ask if an employer will take you on for May through August. Even if you get a few “no’s,” keep searching and applying until you find a good job.

2. Volunteer! Find time to give back to your community while you are on break. Soup kitchens, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, and other organizations are usually looking for more volunteers to lend a hand, even if it is only for a few months. Getting active in your community helps to improve the place where you live, and it will be a rewarding experience for you. Plus it looks great on a resume for all those future job hunts!

3. Educate yourself! I know that the burdens of education are the very things that you are trying to escape during summer break, but it is good to keep your mind active even when you are away from school. When there are no tests to study for, no papers to write, and no professors to please, you are at liberty to choose the subject that you want to learn about. Your local library has hundreds of subjects to choose from; you can learn about something without having to worry about getting a bad grade in a class. This summer I plan on reading up on theological topics that I have not learned about in the classroom, but I would also like to take in a few good fictions for fun. You do not have to stick to educational topics; even leisurely reading fiction will give your brain some much-needed exercise.

4. Enjoy friends and family! When it comes time to have fun, have it with your loved ones that you don’t get to see during the school year. Your parents, siblings, and friends from home are available to spend time with and enjoy. There are countless activities that you can do with your family and friends, so take advantage of them. Don’t seclude yourself this summer; be sociable! Getting to relax and have fun with the people you love is the best, most fulfilling part of summer vacation.

What is Theology?

Pierce and PrestonWhile I was home for spring break enjoying the company of my family and some good food, I got to have a few good discussions with my brother, Preston. One of them got started because he asked me “So what, exactly, is theology?” Being a Biblical and Theological Studies major, I have an answer prepared for every time I am asked that question; it comes out automatically, almost like a reflex: Theology is the study of God; theos is the Greek route meaning “God,” and –ology is the suffix meaning “the study of.” When having a casual conversation with the average person, it is easy to leave it at this stock definition and move on, but I felt that my brother deserved something more in-depth.

When I first came to Nyack College I was also unsure as to exactly what theology is. What gave me the most helpful insight was the main text in my Introduction to Biblical and Theological Studies class, entitled Who Needs Theology, by Stanley Grenz and Roger Olson. This book posits that everyone is a theologian, even non-Christians…even Atheists! Theology is simply thinking and philosophizing about deity in general, whether that deity is the God of the Christians or some other deity. That means that even those who have decided against the existence of God are theologians, since they had to ponder and consider the divine in order to deny it! You may be surprised to hear this, but  you are a theologian, too.

Even after realizing this, you probably don’t feel like a theologian; I didn’t feel like one either when I first read this in the Grenz and Olson book. When most of us think of theology, we think of old men with their doctorates writing long, complicated books on topics that almost no one actually cares about. Many of us go as far as to think that theology is harmful to ministry because it confuses people with unnecessarily complex doctrine. The way that I view Christian theology, and the way I think that everyone should view it, is  the earnest search for better and more comprehensive understandings of God in order to more properly love and serve him.

Through my studies I have come to a realization that has helped me understand what I do as a Christian theologian and why it needs to be done. God is vast, infinite, and above human understanding. No matter how much humans ponder, study, and write, we will never have a complete understanding of who God is and how he works. Instead of using this as an excuse not to try to understand him, I see it as an invitation to continually increase my understanding of him, since there will always be more to learn. I feel closest to God when I am nose-deep in the Bible or a theological text.

Preston, I hope this helps.

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