Assembly Summary: Achieving Godly Success

Author: Juliette McNair | Student, Living Education Charlotte 2021

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 50 seconds.

Mr. Richard Ames graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) with a civil engineering degree. He joined the National Guard and was later transferred to Fort Gordon near Augusta, Georgia, where he trained as a cryptologist and communications specialist. Later, he continued working as a surveyor. Mr. Ames said, “I knew that was not what I wanted to do.” He applied to Yale and got a scholarship for a one-year graduate course in transportation and traffic engineering. In 1961, Mr. Ames worked as a transportation engineer at the Southeastern Virginia Regional Planning Commission in Norfolk, Virginia. In the fall of 1961, Mr. Ames attended his first Feast of Tabernacles at Big Sandy.

“The motivation to do the best I could…”

While in the National Guard, Mr. Ames learned a valuable lesson from a good friend. “My friend set a good example, and his positive attitude of trying to do the best he could gave me the motivation to do the best I could.” Mr. Ames began the Assembly by handing out the reprint series, “Achieving Godly Success.” He said, “Today, I will talk briefly about true success.” Years ago, a young man told Mr. Ames, “I don’t need to know the seven laws of success, I’m already successful.” Mr. Ames remarked it was this very attitude that identified the young man’s lack of success—success is physical and spiritual.

The Seven Laws of Success

“Set the right goal.” To achieve physical and spiritual success, a person must define the success they want by setting spiritual and physical goals.  Mr. Ames deeply desired to visit Jerusalem. Seventeen years after he first set this goal, after Israel had captured control of Jerusalem in the 60s, he and his wife were given the opportunity to visit the city. Mr. Ames quoted Psalm 37:4: “Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”

“Educate and prepare yourself.” Mr. Ames, who has had nine and a half years of higher education at RPI, Yale, Stephen F. Austin State University, and Ambassador College, warned the students to be careful with the knowledge promoted at universities. Instead, he said to recognize “the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10). He said, “You students at Living-Ed are fulfilling this law right now.”

“Maintain good health.” While there are many facets to being healthy, Mr. Ames said the most important principle is building a positive attitude. A positive attitude is not just passive—it goes beyond passivity to proactivity. The purpose behind maintaining good health is found in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit… glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 

“And the fourth law of success is—drive!” Like the ant which “provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest,” Mr. Ames explained that, sometimes, one tiny step must be taken at a time. “You have to prod yourself.” At almost 85 years of age, Mr. Ames said, while he might have to take a nap more often than he used to, he still drives himself every day.

“Apply resourcefulness.” Whether it’s a health crisis or challenges that come on the way to achieving one’s goals, resourcefulness is key. “When you have these challenges, you have to ask, ‘What are the resources I have?’” One valuable resource is advice. “Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established” (Proverbs 15:22).

“Persevere toward your goal.” Mr. Ames said, “I came to a crossroads in my life when I flunked two engineering classes at RPI.” But instead of giving up, Mr. Ames went back, retook the classes he failed, and graduated with his degree. Hebrews 12:1 reads, “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us….” To successfully run the race of life, Christians must practice perseverance.

“Seek God’s continual counsel.” “Trust in the LORD… In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6). Mr. Ames emphasized, “In all your ways.” If a Christian remains close to God every day, through prayer and study, Mr. Ames said, “You are acknowledging Him every day.”

 Success In This Lifetime and Beyond

“How many of you right now—before I say them—can repeat all seven laws of success?” Most of the students raised their hands—a Christian Living project from last semester on the seven laws of success geared them for Mr. Ames’ question. Mr. Ames concluded, “Thank God that you’re building a solid foundation for godly success for this lifetime and beyond.”

This post is part of our new series of student-written content for LivingEd-Charlotte. These summaries cover topics originally presented by our faculty and guest speakers in our weekly Forum and Assembly. For more Assembly-related content check out our Second Thoughts posts.

Forum Summary: The Heart of the Matter

Author: Juliette McNair | Student, Living Education Charlotte 2021

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 57 seconds.

Mr. Michael Aviles pastors five congregations across the New England region. Mr. Aviles grew up in the Worldwide Church of God. He told the students he remembered people’s various reactions to the growing apostasy in the Church in the 90s. Some were confused, some were ignorant of the changes, some were angry—at God, a minister, or Mr. Armstrong—and some were even glad.

Years ago, when Mr. Aviles was thirteen years old, he was sitting in church next to his father as a leading minister preached what would have previously been considered heresy. As the sermon progressed, he explained his father became more tense and upset with what was being preached. “When the sermon ended, the congregation broke out in applause. I can just remember the look on my dad’s face.” A common question for many members who remained loyal to the truth is How can people who understood the truth turn away and embrace the changes so quickly? He said, “The answer is not so simple.”

Spiritual Maturity

In Ephesians 4:11-16, Paul defines that the purpose of government and order in the Church is edification. “The reason God has structure is so we can have strength and confidence and we won’t be tossed about.” And edification leads to spiritual maturity. “… for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to… the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ….” Mr. Aviles pointed out spiritual maturity is not immediate. It’s a lifelong process. But maturity is what can prevent one from being deceived—not only by false leaders or straying members but by oneself.


“When you think of apostasy in the Bible,” Mr. Aviles asked the students, “Who comes to mind?” Korah’s rebellion against Moses and Aaron is one example (Numbers 16:1-3). Mr. Aviles said, “Notice the argument of Korah. They weren’t saying, Let’s disobey God.” They said instead, “You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them…” They thought they were the good guys. “Self-deception leads to blindness.” Self-deception also leads one to think they are acting for God, not against Him. When Saul offered a burnt offering without Samuel, he felt he had no choice (1 Samuel 13:5-12). “He deceived himself into disobeying God.”

How to Keep Our Hearts Close to God

The deeper problem, Mr. Aviles explained, is the heart. “If our heart is in the right place, God leads us to truth.” Mr. Aviles gave the students five keys for keeping their hearts close to God.

“Always remember it’s God’s righteousness, not our righteousness.” God does not call people because of their merit. The Pharisees, in Romans 10:1-3, were those who “being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God.” Mr. Aviles emphasized God gives His righteousness to Christians.

“Always remember it’s God’s strength, not our strength.” Even Jesus Christ was overwhelmed in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:37-39). Like Him, Christians shouldn’t rely on their physical strength. Mr. Aviles quoted Isaiah 26:4, “Trust in the LORD forever, For in YAH, the LORD, is everlasting strength.”

“Do not be overly self-confident. Instead, have confidence in God.” The longer a person has been in the Church, the more susceptible they are to feeling overly confident, slipping into self-deception. Mr. Aviles said, “What God gives He can take away.” Those with their hearts close to God recognize the truth of Proverbs 3:26: “The LORD will be your confidence….”

“Be patient, and develop the quality of longsuffering.” Saul sinned because he was impatient and didn’t wait for God’s timing. Mr. Aviles defined longsuffering as enduring hardship. Sometimes, that means enduring offense. “God is longsuffering with us. He sees us not for what we are right now, but, ultimately, for what we will become.”

“Be dedicated to continue to learn and grow spiritually.” Mr. Aviles remarked, “We all know this in principle, but are we really applying it?” The spiritual tools of Bible study, prayer, meditation, and fasting are valuable mechanisms for continual growth. Reading the same passage of Scripture repeatedly is beneficial—even returning to a Living Church News article later can bring new understanding. “God will bring to light new things if you have the right attitude.”

“As young people, the sooner you can identify the human nature inside you and beat it down, the better off you are.”

Throughout Church history, heresy has crept in and caused apostasy and compromise. How can people turn away from what they once believed? Mr. Aviles said, “God knows. The more important question is, What do I need to do to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to me?” He concluded, “If our heart is looking to God, He will protect us from deception.” This is the heart of the matter.

This post is part of our new series of student-written content for LivingEd-Charlotte. These summaries cover topics originally presented by our faculty and guest speakers in our weekly Forum and Assembly. For more Assembly-related content check out our Second Thoughts posts.

Children’s Bible Program – Level 1: NT Lesson 16 “The Unjust Steward”

Featured Passage: Luke 16


Jesus often taught the people using parables. When His disciples asked Him why, He told them it wasn’t time for all the people to understand the meaning of everything He was saying. One day, when Jesus was teaching His disciples, He began telling them a parable about a steward – a person who manages someone’s estate or money. The steward’s boss heard that he was doing a bad job, so he told the steward he was going to fire him. The steward, knowing he was going to lose his job, had to make a quick decision. He did something that Jesus explained with some important lessons for us. 



  1. What did the steward do? What does it mean to be shrewd? 
  2. What is “mammon”? 
  3. With the decision that the steward made, he was making friends with the people who owed his boss money, and preparing for his own future. God wants us to be careful with how we use our money now, in this physical life, but what future are we preparing for ultimately?  How is our future in the kingdom more important than our lives in this world?
  4. What do you think Jesus meant when He said “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much”? Think about the things you own – your toys, clothes, money, etc. What are some ways you can “be faithful” (trustworthy) with the things you own? How would taking care of your things prepare you to take care of bigger things in God’s kingdom?

Memory Challenge:

Luke 16:10 (NIV)

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.”

Course Spotlight: Why We Say “Amen!”

Why do we use the word “Amen” at the end of each of our prayers? Find out the origin of this word and how it is used throughout Scripture!

Course Spotlight From Tools for Christian Growth: Prayer

Assembly Summary: Why Are You Here?

Author: Juliette McNair | Student, Living Education Charlotte 2021

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 13 seconds.

“Mr. Armstrong used to ask, especially before the Holy Days, Why are you here? So, why are you here—at Living-Ed and in the Church?” Mr. Dexter Wakefield, the Vice President of Finance and Operations at Headquarters and a Living-Ed instructor, said, “People have many different reasons for being in the Church, and they prioritize those within that. So, what are yours?” It’s important to know your motives, because “God tests weak motives.” People leave the Church because they lose their reason for being there—or their most important motive wasn’t prioritized. Mr. Wakefield gave the students ten common, but not good primary reasons people have for being in the Church. 

Ten Low-Priority Reasons

“I grew up in the Church.”  

Mr. Wakefield said, “Loyalty to family tradition is a good thing—it can carry you through a lot.”  But our faith in God’s truth is a higher priority. The danger of this convenient motive is clear from the apostasy of the Worldwide Church of God.

“To avoid the Tribulation.”

“Attendance goes up when the world gets scary.” If one simply wants to avoid the Tribulation, they may forget God’s ways when times are easy, thinking to return when things get serious. “And if you think it’s difficult to be in the Church now, it will be a whole lot harder in the end-times.”

“Being a Philadelphian.

If being a Philadelphian is one’s major reason, Mr. Wakefield explained it becomes easy to see Laodiceans around you. “Watch out for Satan’s spiritual judo… A smaller person can throw a larger person off balance if they use their momentum in the direction in which they were already going.” Satan uses pride as a handle. Real Philadelphians are focused on the Work, not worrying about being labeled Philadelphian.

“To avoid the lake of fire.”

Should this fear be primary? While it is a “motivating psychological factor,” leaders can use it to manipulate people. Mr. Wakefield likened this to the Catholic Church in the Dark Ages, where many people purchased indulgences out of “a burning fear of hell.”

“To get salvation.”

God’s laws are not a burden—they are not a means to being saved. Mr. Wakefield noted the Church has been accused of legalism. But Christians keep the Sabbath and repent of breaking it because they want to. “It should be kept from the heart, which is the seat of the will.”

The social aspect.

Christ said, “These things I command you, that you love one another.” Church social life is important, but if members are here because their friends are here, Mr. Wakefield asked, “What happens when your friend leaves or you disagree?” Emotional fulfillment should not be a primary purpose.

It’s a loving environment.

The Church is a loving environment, but offenses still come. “God allows it to happen.” He allows brethren to learn to exercise, what Mr. Wakefield coined, “the go-to rule.” Go to God, go to the person, and be reconciled. “Don’t let it fester as a root of bitterness—because roots grow down.”

“Intellectual stimulation.”

The Greeks to whom Paul spoke in Acts 17:18-21 were “a society based on creating information by reasoning.” But the Church is to learn through God’s revelation. Mr. Wakefield said, “Intellectual stimulation and spiritual growth are not the same things… Knowledge is useful to the extent it helps us practice spiritual growth—not distract us from growth.”

There is a minister to whom you relate.

He asked, “What if that minister is transferred? What he leaves the Church?” Many congregations around the world don’t even have a pastor. Why do these people remain faithful? Mr. Wakefield advised the students, “Don’t lose sight of the offices through [focusing on] personalities.” While ministers occupy offices of service, Christ does the works.

“Church culture.”

Mr. Wakefield said, “You would be surprised at how important this is to some.” The comfort of our form of service, the hymnal, the music—many small traditions create a Church norm. But if a practice is changed, or another church’s culture is more attractive, why would those with this priority remain?


“Historically, the Church has been through times of turmoil.” Luke 21:16-17 refers to the betrayal and persecution God’s people will continue to face till the end. Mr. Wakefield cited Acts 20:29, “savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock.” Turmoil is inevitable. “If your priority is comfort and stability, the end time Living Church of God may be a tough place for you. Things will get worse.”

The Primary Reasons We Should Have

“These reasons are okay, but they’re not the best. Why are you here? Why will you stay here? If you are here because of a weak reason, maybe you can change it.” Mr. Wakefield concluded by giving good primary reasons for being in the Church and attending Living-Ed. Christians are here because they have been called (Acts 2:37-38), and “because they have a commitment to the truth and to the Work” (Ephesians 6:14). Mr. Wakefield exhorted the students to prioritize their primary reasons—then, when God tests their convictions, they will know why they are here.

This post is part of our new series of student-written content for LivingEd-Charlotte. These summaries cover topics originally presented by our faculty and guest speakers in our weekly Forum and Assembly. For more Assembly-related content check out our Second Thoughts posts.

Second Thoughts: A Walking Sermon

Author: Juliette McNair | Student, Living Education Charlotte 2021

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 20 seconds. 

Mr. Alex Celan, a ministerial trainee at Charlotte, teaches Characters in the Bible at Living Education—a semester-long course focusing on select individuals from the Bible. This week, Mr. Celan asked us, “Have you ever heard of the saying, I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day?” I hadn’t heard of this saying, but the idea stuck with me as we were told the story of the Apostle John. In the words of Mr. Celan, “John was a walking sermon.”

Would I Drop My Net?

John and his older brother James were the sons of Zebedee. They were from a wealthy family that owned a fleet of fishing boats and employed servants (Mark 1:19-20). John was likely one of the two followers of John the Baptist who followed Christ after discovering who He was (John 1:35-40). Mr. Celan said, “As soon as Christ called them, they dropped their nets.” I have to wonder, Would I have dropped everything and followed Christ?

Later, as Christ was being crucified, He saw His mother watching and deliberately asked John to take care of her. Though Jesus had several brothers, He trusted John to take responsibility for Mary. Why?

A Son of Thunder

God called John when one of his defining traits was a streak of impetuousness. John boldly rebuked some who were performing miracles in Christ’s name—Christ even had to rebuke John and his brother for wanting to call down fire from heaven and destroy a Samaritan city (Luke 9:54). Mr. Celan reminded us that John’s mother presumptuously asked Christ if her sons could sit on either side of Him in the Kingdom. John’s impulsiveness seems to have been a family trait; perhaps our biggest weaknesses are “inherited” or facilitated by our parents and upbringing.

Whether John’s tendencies can be laid at his feet or his parents, God worked with him and his flaws—and if Christ was willing to train a son of thunder to do His Work, could He do the same for me and my failings?

John’s Legacy

When John’s mother asked Christ if her sons could sit by Him in the Kingdom, Christ asked John and his brother if they were able to drink the cup He was to drink. John said, I am, and Christ replied, “You will indeed drink My cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with” (Matthew 20:22). After Christ died, John remained committed to teaching true doctrine. He devoted His life to teaching the true love of God. He wrote in 1 John 5:3, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments.” The region of Asia Minor, where John worked, was one of the last regions to give in to the pressure to compromise from Rome. In the second century, Polycrates wrote to Pope Victor about the Passover:

We observe the exact day; neither adding, nor taking away. For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again on the day of the Lord’s coming…. Among these are… John, who was both a witness and a teacher, who reclined upon the bosom of the Lord…. 

The Disciple Jesus Loved

John’s example inspired his followers to hold fast to God’s law. He was transformed from an impetuous son of thunder into the Apostle of love. John grew into a person Jesus could trust, not only to care for His mother but to protect His future wife, the Church. God refined John’s boldness into a trait that would help him to continue the Work and stand strong against pressure to compromise. He drank of the cup Christ drank by remaining unabashedly committed to the truth to the end.

John’s legacy lives on, not as a presumptuous son of thunder but as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” John embodied the change that true conversion brings—he was indeed a walking sermon. As I examine the way I walk before Passover, maybe I should have some second thoughts on the traits that God might be trying to change and convert in me.

Juliette McNair is a student at Living Education Charlotte. She works in the Editorial Department transcribing sermons and proofreading transcripts. She also assists Living Education by writing Second Thoughts essays and Forum/Assembly Summaries for the website. Juliette recently graduated from SUNY Cobleskill in Upstate New York with an A.A.S in Horticulture, a B.T in Plant Science, and a minor in English with a writing focus. She loves playing soccer on the beach, getting up early to watch the sunrise, and playing piano with the lights out.

Forum Summary: Mars and Beyond: God’s Awesome Universe

Author: Juliette McNair | Student, Living Education Charlotte 2021

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 45 seconds.

Mars and Beyond: God’s Awesome Universe—A scale we cannot fathom yet

Dr. Roedolph Opperman was introduced for the Forum on March 2, 2021, 64 days before the Living-Ed graduation according to the students’ countdown. Dr. Opperman works for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and is part of the team that landed the Mars rover, Perseverance, on Thursday, February 18, 2021. For the next 90 days, Dr. Opperman’s team will live with their clocks adjusted to “Mars time,” since Martian days are 40 minutes longer than Earth days.

Fault Protection

“Our job is to try to break the spacecraft—well, not really. It’s way too expensive for that.” Dr. Opperman is a Fault Protection systems engineer. His team was responsible to find out “what could potentially go wrong.” Whether software glitches or cable breaks, they trialed the rover and programmed the computer to detect issues and self-correct. The engineers use an identical testbed rover to simulate the Perseverance and gauge its performance before commands are sent out.

The Challenge of Getting to Mars

One key challenge to the mission was landing the rover safely. Entry, Descent, and Landing (EDL) is known as the “seven minutes of terror” to NASA engineers. On average, it takes about 10minutes for a message from the Mars rover to reach the earth—during this time, the engineers have no idea if it has landed or crashed. Dr. Opperman explained the vehicle has to enter, descend, and land on its own. When the spacecraft reached Mars’ atmosphere, a heatshield—heating to 1600 degrees under friction—protected it as it hurtled to the planet. Then, a 70-foot diameter supersonic parachute that could withstand over 65,000 pounds of force deployed and slowed the vehicle’s descent. The heat shield was dropped, and the spacecraft secured a radar lock on the ground. To slow it even more, a powered descent was performed using rockets. The chute was cut, and rockets diverted the vehicle away from the parachute. At 20 meters above the surface, using the “sky crane” maneuver, cables lowered the rover to the ground. Every step of EDL had to occur autonomously, in perfect coordination.

Mission Objectives

“I’ve been working on this project for three years—some have been working on it for eight years or more. For some people, this is what life is all about.” One objective of the mission is to find out if there was ancient life on Mars. For this purpose, the rover was equipped with different tools, like a ground-penetrating radar, UV and X-ray spectrometers, a laser, several cameras, and a drill for taking soil samples. Another objective is to test MOXIE, a system that can convert carbon dioxide from the Mars atmosphere to produce oxygen for humans to breath on Mars. NASA aims to land humans on Mars by the 2030s, and private companies like SpaceX are also racing to establish colonies on the planet. Yet, Dr. Opperman stated, “Humans aren’t designed for space.” The weightlessness of space—without the gravity earth exerts on a body—causes bones to demineralize and muscles to atrophy without at least 90 minutes of daily exercise. Also, without the earth’s protective atmosphere and magnetic field, space radiation poses the major threat to human exploration of space.

“A Speck of Dust in the Universe: Earth”

Dr. Opperman said, “Let’s take a step back. We’ve gotten a glimpse of how hard it is just to get to the closest planet next to us.” But “God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). He created everything we see and don’t see, like dark matter, the entire spectrum of light, and the spiritual realm. The Voyager space probes, launched in the 70s, have traveled over 14 billion miles and are the most distant human-made objects from Earth. They have since exited our solar system and are still in communication with Earth today. Yet, the extent of mankind’s exploration of the universe is minuscule in cosmological terms. Our planet could fit into the Sun 1.3 million times. Dr. Opperman put this into perspective: If the Earth was the size of a golf ball, the Sun would be a 15-foot diameter sphere such that one could fill a school bus full of golf balls inside it. But our Sun is dwarfed by the size of many other stars: The Pistol Star, a blue hypergiant, is 100 times the size of the Sun, and the Red Supergiants are up to 1,000 times the size of the Sun. Even our Milky Way Galaxy, which contains roughly 200 billion stars is an average galaxy. The largest galaxy, IC 1101, is 50 times its size. The Laniakea Supercluster that contains the Milky Way is also home to about 100,000 other galaxies—and larger superclusters than Laniakea have been discovered. There are more stars in the universe than grains of sand on all the beaches on Earth. That’s at least a billion trillion and probably much more. Studies seem to indicate that there are even far more planets than stars!

Building Planets

Even as a speck of dust in the vast universe, Dr. Opperman reminded the students that Earth will be where “the headquarters of the universe, New Jerusalem, is established.” He quoted Paul, “For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12). Dr. Opperman said, “The Mars rover is so minute compared to what God can create… As humans, we have this desire to explore—but as spirit beings, we can be on the other side of the galaxy and not just build rovers, but build planets.”

When asked what his plans were for after the Mars rover project, Dr. Opperman replied, “Get some sleep. I have a toddler—I’m not really on Mars time.”

This post is part of our new series of student-written content for LivingEd-Charlotte. These summaries cover topics originally presented by our faculty and guest speakers in our weekly Forum and Assembly. For more Assembly-related content check out our Second Thoughts posts.

Course Spotlight: Prophecies of Christ’s Crucifixion

Did you know that the Old Testament has multiple prophecies relating to Christ’s crucifixion? Check out how these prophecies were fulfilled in the New Testament!

Course Spotlight From God’s Feast Days: Passover

Assembly Summary: Be Patient and Trust in God

Author: Juliette McNair | Student, Living Education 2021

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 44 seconds.

Mr. Weston began his Living-Ed Assembly with a personal story. In his fourth year of marriage, he and his wife were using handed-down furniture. They were given a chair which they decided to re-cover rather than buy a new one. After a few months of saving, they chose material for their chair. But, looking around their living room, they realized their re-covered chair would clash with the curtains. They really needed to replace their dining room chairs and table, and even the furniture in the other rooms was not really what they had wanted. Mr. Weston said, “We started thinking about all the things we didn’t have. We were thinking, It will be forever before we have everything we want.”

“Most of life is still ahead!”

 Mr. Weston said that what he and his wife hadn’t understood was that most of life was still ahead of them. “When I go back and look at my life, the greatest aspiration I had after being sent into the field ministry was to become a minister pastoring a couple of churches… I never thought I would be anything beyond that.” He said, “Right now, you are in the preparatory phase for what comes after.” Decades of marriage, kids, homes, and successful careers are still ahead for most young people. “In the Assembly today, I’m going to discuss patience and the need to trust God in directing your life.”

Joseph distinguished himself.

Joseph’s brothers, antagonized by their father’s favoritism and Joseph’s dreams, sold him into slavery when he was only seventeen. While God was with Joseph in Egypt (Genesis 39:2), Joseph was proactive. When he was falsely accused and thrown into prison, “he didn’t allow himself to wallow, but he did what he had to do.” Joseph didn’t focus on what he didn’t have—Mr. Weston reminded the students that having everything does not bring happiness. He quoted Dennis Prager from The Rational Bible: Exodus:

In many ways, gratitude is the most important of all the good character traits. It is the most indispensable trait to both happiness and goodness. One can neither be a happy person nor a good person without gratitude. The less gratitude one has, the more one sees oneself as a victim… As for happiness, if you think of all the people you know, you will not be able to name one who is ungrateful and happy. The two are mutually exclusive.


Joseph distinguished himself for thirteen years. Rather than worry about what he couldn’t accomplish, he focused on what he could do. Eventually, he achieved success and his power was second only to the Pharaoh.

“Joseph had no idea what God planned for him.”

“God exalted Joseph, but He did so on His schedule.” Joseph’s journey from slavery to leadership in Egypt was rocky. Yet, Mr. Weston explained, “God had a long-term plan for Joseph, the sons of Israel, and for all mankind.” God used Joseph to prepare for the institution of the Passover, providing for Ancient Israel and foreshadowing the sacrifice that would cover every human being’s sins. “You have no idea how God is going to use you in the future.”

“Joseph was a big picture person.”

Genesis 45:1-5 recounts the emotional confrontation between Joseph and his brothers. Mr. Weston said, “They must have been terrified, knowing what they had done.” While Joseph reminds them of what they had done to him, he also understood God’s larger purpose. Joseph said, “Do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.” Mr. Weston explained, “God allows some things to happen for a period of time to give people a chance to repent and change.”

A Matter of Trusting God

In Mark 10:29-30, Christ explained that those who leave their possessions, families, and previous lives for His sake would “receive a hundredfold now in this time… and in the age to come, eternal life.” Mr. Weston finished reading the scripture and said, “I can stand here and say that I can see this in my life. We must learn to trust that God will prosper us if we do what we should do.” He said specifically to the students, “This is an educational phase for you—you’re doing what you should be doing. There’s a lot of life ahead of you. Don’t become impatient and think you have to have it right now.” Mr. Weston inspired the students to be thankful and to do their part as Joseph did. “Be patient and trust in God.”

This post is part of our new series of student-written content for LivingEd-Charlotte. These summaries cover topics originally presented by our faculty and guest speakers in our weekly Forum and Assembly. For more Assembly-related content check out our Second Thoughts posts.

Forum Summary: We’ve Got to Own It

Author: Juliette McNair | Student, Living Education 2021

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 23 seconds.

Dr. Scott Winnail, the pastor of several congregations in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, spoke to the Living-Ed students over WebEx. Dr. Winnail was the Dean of Faculty and Executive Vice President of Living University. He assisted in the transition of LU into Living Education and taught the Living-Ed Christian Living course for the first few semesters. He said, “It’s a treat to talk to you. I chose to talk about a subject I hope I can make relatable to you at this stage in your life.” He asked the students how they had been leaders in the past and what leadership roles they aspire to have. Leadership is a fundamental component of life—even for young people. Dr. Winnail explained, “God is looking to us to be leaders so He can use us.”

“Leaders must own everything in their world.”

Dr. Winnail referenced the book Extreme Ownership How U.S. Navy SEALS Lead and Win by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. The book shows leaders and aspiring leaders how to have a positive influence on everyone around them. Willink wrote, “Leaders must own everything in their world. There is no one else to blame.” Dr. Winnail asked the students, “Does that sound extreme? We can’t control everything and everyone else, but we have way more sway than we might think.” In his forum, Dr. Winnail pulled two principles from Extreme Ownership about how Christians can take ownershipin their lives.

“There are no bad teams, only bad leaders.”

The first point was illustrated in a story from Willink and Babin’s book. In a SEAL training exercise during Hell Week, groups of men were assigned to inflatable boats and went through a series of races. A crew-leader directed each group. After a few rounds of these races, one team continued to place first while another team regularly placed last. The head instructors then switched the leaders of these teams. The originally winning team maintained relative success—the team had learned how to work together, even under the poor leader. The former losing team with the good leader placed first consistently. Dr. Winnail used the account of David’s census of Israel as an example of ownership in leadership. David admitted he had sinned, took responsibility for his mistake, and didn’t blame Joab or his team for his failure (1 Chronicles 21:8). Dr Winnail said, “Effective Godly leaders own up to their mistakes.” Good leaders don’t blame their team but lead their team to be better.

“Good leaders check their ego.”

The authors of the book wrote, “Implementing Extreme Ownership requires checking your ego and operating with a high degree of humility.” Good leaders don’t feel threatened by those under them and are willing to listen to advice. According to Josephus, Moses was a general and powerful political figure in Egypt. Yet Moses listened and took Jethro’s advice on governing Israel (Exodus 18:24). He was “very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3). Dr. Winnail said, “He was meek, teachable, and approachable. He was willing to check his ego and not pull rank.” Romans 12:3 reads, “For I say… to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think… as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” Dr. Winnail pointed out that God gives gifts to each person differently—we are not God’s gift to mankind.

We’ve Got to Own It

“We don’t know all the future leadership roles we might have, and, frankly, we don’t even know all the roles we are in now.” Dr. Winnail said, “We have to own the truth. We have to own the Work.” God is watching for young leaders who will step up and take ownership of everything within their world. Christian leaders now are part of something far greater—in the millennium, Dr. Winnail reminded, they will teach leadership and ownership to those who will be leaders later during the Great White Throne Judgement. “In a world in which so many people want to blame others,” Dr. Winnail concluded, “we’ve got to own it.”

This post is part of our new series of student-written content for LivingEd-Charlotte. These summaries cover topics originally presented by our faculty and guest speakers in our weekly Forum and Assembly. For more Assembly-related content check out our Second Thoughts posts.