Forum Summary: Examine the Whole Man

Estimated Reading Time: 3 min.

Evangelist Richard F. Ames spoke in a forum this September.

In this message, he addressed the subject of personality, its complexities, and how it applies to the students as we develop our character during this nine-month program.

He pointed out that although every member of God’s Church is unique, we have the responsibility to develop the character of God within our own personalities (2 Corinthians 13:5). Yet these attributes only shape our character; they don’t alter our personality itself. According to the definition we were given, “Personality is a totality of all your behaviors, attitudes, and characteristics.” With that, Mr. Ames gave different ways we can all make the most of our personalities. 

Examine Yourself

“You are unique. Who are you?” Mr. Ames directed us students to truly analyze ourselves. Only by self-examination of your personality can you determine what you presently are, and then truly see your faults. He then gave examples of tools that help with this, such as the Meyers Briggs sixteen personality system that denotes extraversion versus introversion, sensing versus intuition, thinking versus feeling, and perceiving versus judging. Mr. Ames shared his own personality type and examples of the tendencies he showed even as a young man that confirmed that type. 

Another resource he recommended was the self-examination questionnaire given to the students of Ambassador College. In years past, students who wished to take part in school-sponsored service projects around the world would complete the form before being accepted into various programs. Mr. Ames then encouraged the students to think about using these tools and deciding what qualities we desire to develop while attending Living Education–Charlotte. 

Analyze Positive Examples

The Bible is full of examples of strong personalities, and Mr. Ames pointed out a few of these. Individuals like Paul and Peter stand out as characters of great renown, but the ultimate example we can study is that of Jesus Christ. We need to develop our personality to be well-rounded, as these notable men were, but in our own unique way. Mr. Ames then referred the students to an article written by Dr. Roderick Meredith, “Build the Personality of a King,” as a guide in this process. This article delineates five practical methods we can learn from the Bible for developing our unique personalities. 

Develop Your Personality

Mr. Ames outlined these methods, expounding on them as he went. 

  1. Develop outgoing interest and warmth towards others. This is shown by Jesus and defined in the principle “It is more blessed to give than receive” (Acts 20:35). 
  2. Build zest and humor into your life. We need to make sure we help others enjoy their lives. 
  3. Be patient, compassionate, and modest. Christ exemplified this many times, especially with the compassion He showed to the multitudes (Matthew 9:36). 
  4. Be strong, confident, and courageous. The Bible is full of examples of courage and strength, such as that of the Apostles after they were threatened by the Sanhedrin (Acts 5:17–42). 
  5. Build enthusiasm, drive, and purpose. Mr. Ames said that if we practice all of these methods, we can use the entirety of our personality to be an ambassador for truth and for Christ. 

In a post-forum interview, Mr. Ames said that “each student is precious in God’s sight” and that God sees them as the future leaders of the Church. By developing the whole man, as is said in Ecclesiastes 12:13, we can then express godly character by developing our personalities and the qualities of loving our neighbors as ourselves.

Sabrielle McNair is currently one of the student leaders at Living Education. For the majority of her life, Sabrielle lived in Albany, New York. Having grown up in the church, she has been involved in church programs since she was a young girl. Presently, she works as the women’s Resident Assistant, assists in LivingEd event preparations, works in the finance department, and writes for the website.

Forum Summary: The Demise of the West

Estimated Reading Time: 3 min.

In his recent forum, Dr. Douglas Winnail spoke on the demise of the West and the degradation in its quality of life.

Businesses are failing, morality is loosening, millions are fighting for the right to kill their unborn children, and Marxism is becoming an increasingly popular school of thought in our society. Dr. Winnail stated that “ideas have consequences,” and he followed that comment by explaining that our nation is in decline due to a lack of a proper understanding of the Bible.

The Missing Biblical Perspective

Over the years, Western nations have been influenced by many leaders, both political and ideological, who have spread their disruptive ideas throughout the world. Dr. Winnail listed several individuals and their respective works and ideas that have shaped the thinking of our world, and he stated that their ideas have become “new gods of the mind.” He began with Voltaire and Rousseau, who criticized the monarchy and religion, and that their philosophical ideas influenced the French Revolution and even our modern world. Charles Darwin doubted the teachings of his former church—the Church of England. With only speculative ideas about evolution, Darwin was able to convince many people that there was no need for a Creator. The atheistic socialist revolutionary, Karl Marx wrote The Communist Manifesto, which attacked religion, the family and private property and eventually led to the deaths of millions of people who were subjected to his ideas. From the perspective of today, we can see the influence these men had on our culture and society. Simply stated, ideas have consequences.

The Frankfurt School

After Marxism failed in Europe, the Marxists packed their bags and brought their ideologies to America. Ultimately, the followers of their philosophical ideologies became known as the “Frankfurt School.” The ideas of these “cultural Marxists” have spread through the media and our social institutions as public schools now promote radical sex education, homosexuality and gender-fluid bathrooms. All these ideas are the product of Satan, and Revelation 12:9 states that he “deceives the whole world.” His ultimate goal is to hinder and disrupt God’s plan to expand the God family. Satan will attempt to divide society in any way possible, and he uses all the “devices” that he can get his hands on, including misguided ideas and leaders who have been able to influence millions (2 Corinthians 2:11; 11:1-15).

Why is This Happening?

Dr. Winnail pointed to Genesis 12, where God made promises to Abraham that his descendants would become great. These promises were eventually fulfilled by America, Britain and other nations of the West. He also read from Leviticus 26:14-17, where it states that if the people of Israel obeyed and worshipped God, they would be blessed; however, if they disobeyed, they would be cursed and ruled by those who hate them. The divisions that are tearing at the foundation of Western nations today have come as a result of our nations turning away from God and following the ideas of misguided thinkers and leaders. If our nations would turn to God, we would experience better lives and truly enjoy a land of prosperity. While we wait for the kingdom that God will establish on this earth, we will see the western nations continue their downward spiral to their demise, because they have been deceived into following ideas that have serious negative consequences.

(Edits were made to the original post on September 30, 2022)

Nathan Kroon is one of the Student Leaders at Living Education. He originally hails from Washington State, and is a 4th generation Christian. Currently, he works at Headquarters as a Video Editor, and is the Lead Landscaper at the LivingEd dorms. His hobbies include playing guitar, listening to music, drawing, and watching movies.

Forum Summary: God is a Family

Author: Kaleb Johnson | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2022-23

Estimated Reading Time: 2 min.

The Living Education students in Charlotte recently had the privilege of hearing from a minister serving as the area pastor for Southeast Asia and India, Mr. Rajan Moses.

He serves members of God’s Church in seven countries and has learned much from his experience covering such a large region. Mr. Moses began by stating that God is a family. When he came into the church 50 years ago, Mr. Moses had to prove to himself, and then defend to his family and others, that God is not a Trinity. “To understand that concept,” elaborated Mr. Moses, “it took many years to really come to grasp how God is a family.” It is a profound truth that carries many pertinent lessons for us right now. Ultimately, God is reproducing Himself to expand His family, and the physical family is a type of this. We in God’s church today are to look at one another as brothers and sisters, preparing for the coming time when we will be born again into God’s family. 

Family and the Church of God Today 

Mr. Moses proved the Truth to much of his family, and many of them are in the Church too. But this is not a singular event. We see through the Bible that God works with families. Today, the Church is filled with these families with whom God has worked, and the area Mr. Moses covers is no exception to this. In Southeast Asia and India, many congregations are one or two families, often large families, who strengthen and support one another. Mr. Moses then took a moment to tell the students about our spiritual family in an area quite far away from Charlotte. 

The Expansive Family of God 

Mr. Moses showed the students a map of Southeast Asia with all its congregations as dots, telling us about the members who were there and some unique bits about each place. He showed a map of India and Sri Lanka and mentioned the members and congregations there. We learned that these parts of the world are home for many members of God’s Church, our brothers and sisters. And here, too, God works with many unique families and people. These members of our spiritual family come out of mainstream Christianity, Isalm, Buddhism, and Hinduism, which is an example of God calling people all around the world from all backgrounds. The Work is still increasing in this part of the world.

congregations Southeast Asia photo

A Challenge for Us All

Our brethren in Southeast Asia face difficulties and challenges that we may not realize. Mr. Moses told us how getting off work for the Sabbath and Holy Days can be a bigger challenge than we are used to in the United States. Even some schools require children to attend on Saturdays, so parents in the Church have to get special absence approval for their kids. But, God works these problems out if we have faith in Him, as our brethren in these countries can testify. With the recent military coup in Myanmar, some brethren have been forced to flee villages and even the country. Mr. Moses told the story of one member’s son, a police inspector who was told by the military to execute “rebels.” He was forced to flee Myanmar altogether and escape to Thailand! It is imperative for our members to trust in God. “We all live by faith…. Whenever we face these types of trials, we rely on God, and God opens doors.”

While these members face difficulties that many of us do not, we all have a common challenge. We have to fulfill the admonition given by Jesus Christ (John 13:34-35). Do we have a genuine love, like the love a family has for one another? Would someone outside the Church see us showing love for one another plainly? Or would they not? As Paul said in 1 Corinthians, we must suffer together, rejoice together, and eventually we will be glorified together (12:24-26). Mr. Moses gave a specific challenge to the LE students: “Talk to them [older church members]; ask them how they came into the Church and about their experiences in the past.” The trials the older generation faced are very similar to the ones that this generation is and will face! We can learn from their experience. We all must do our part to bring this spiritual family of God, prospective members of God’s divine family, together in unity. Mr. Moses concluded by saying we must all practice and radiate the love of God as one unified family to prepare for the soon-coming time when we will be sons and daughters in the family of God. 

Forum Summary: Good News!

Author: Kaleb Johnson | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2022-23

Estimated Reading Time: 2 min.

Is There Good News?

Mr. McNair began his forum for the LE students by asking, “Should we watch the news?” As Christians, we want to limit the involvement we have in the politics and concerns of this world, yet the proverbs admonish us to increase knowledge and pay attention to what is going on around us (Proverbs 1:5), and Christ told us to watch for the end of the age (Luke 21:36). We rely on news sources to deliver us this information.

Bias of the News

Mr. McNair then delved into the subject of news sources by asking, “Where are we getting our news from?” Younger audiences get their news from social media and online sources, primarily. On the other hand, older audiences often use television. These different news sources are fully aware of their audience’s demographics, and they use that information to provide articles and segments that appeal to their viewers. If we are not careful, we can be entertained by the news and not educated. We must seek knowledge and not foolishness (Proverbs 15:14). In addition to just demographic divides, news sources have political and topical divides. Some only address politics or economics, but every source presents information through the lens of what they deem relevant. 

How to Get Good News

The challenge we face is sifting through incomplete, biased, and inaccurate information. We have to understand the political and topical bias of the news sources we use. As a result, it is necessary to vary our sources from time to time to ensure we are getting multiple perspectives. Mr. McNair then outlined four tips for us to bear in mind when approaching the news: 

  1. Understand the system. The news is meant to get attention and keep it.
  2. Find the source. Whenever possible, look at the original source. Oftentimes, one piece of information is posted on one news source and then is proliferated around due to that initial publicity. Examine the bias of the source as well. 
  3. Understand the slant. No news source is right from God’s perspective, and they often have an obvious and intentional slant on the information they present and the light in which they present it. 
  4. Know yourself. Examine your personal bias. Be aware of what concepts appeal to you and how they can affect your intake of knowledge. 

If we apply these four principles, we can find knowledge through the foolishness, narratives, slants, and systematic influences that exist in news sources, and we can be wise and fulfill our admonition to always watch. 

Forum Summary: Character is a Choice

Estimated Reading Time: 3 min.

In his recent forum, Mr. Lambert Greer wished to express the importance of keeping godly character, especially in today’s world. 

The world realizes that people today all need good character in order for the world to become a more peaceful place, but most are unwilling to make the choice to change. People stipulate that Americans make up their own laws, and reflect their character in this way. Mr. Greer brought up how the most looked-up word on the internet in 2005 was “integrity,” which is likely a result of our nation questioning its leadership within government offices at the time. This means that the average citizen values the character of our leaders over many other leadership qualities.

The Definition of Character

Mr. Greer stated that character is who we are at heart. He also used Romans 8:7 to explain that the carnal mind does not subject itself to the law of God, which is why we need to constantly evaluate ourselves to make sure we are avoiding situations that can lead us to making irrational decisions.

Foregone Devotions

Today, nothing seems to be seen as sacred anymore. Many marriages today end in divorce. While the statistics may show you that divorce rates have actually decreased in our country recently, what they will not show you is that fewer and fewer couples will even choose to be married anymore; they see it as a burden. Commitment and sincerity is no longer a priority in peoples’ morality. Even work ethic seems to be long gone.

A Man of Principle

Seeing all this moral corruption around us, Mr. Greer decided to read out the moral code of Benjamin Franklin to show us what a man famous for his values had kept closest to his heart.

The list consisted of 13 different values. In order, they were temperance, balance, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, chastity, and humility. He would make these values into a checklist every day and would make sure to check off all the ones that he had kept intact every day. 

Challenge Yourself

Mr. Greer also instructed us to set goals that would challenge us. He recalled the first time that he and Mr. Weston were directors for the Living Youth Camps. They had discussed how they could implement ideas to keep the young campers in line. He explained that they had to make some difficult decisions, because they realized that keeping the teens and pre-teens obedient would have to come down to how the leadership acted. They started by making rules and restrictions on themselves, activity directors, and other staff, and they were initially met with some complaints. Hearing these, they decided to hold fast and stick with their decisions. At the end of that first camp, those who had made such complaints told them that it had turned out to be the best camp that they had ever been to. This instance further cements the importance of godly character in our leadership.

Unbroken Bonds

Mr. Greer told us how Christ would act today if He had continued to exist as flesh and blood: He would continue to preach the word of God until the end. Just as Christ is, we must also be strong in our convictions and boundaries, and be careful not to break them. We will be expected to make difficult choices in our lives, and to make them with godly virtues in mind. Mr. Greer pointed to 1 Samuel 16:7 to emphasize that God looks in the hearts of man rather than their physical appearance.

With these points in mind, Mr. Greer expressed to his audience that we all must pursue godly character. We must follow the example of Jesus Christ. If we do not make the choice to change our character for the better, then that change will not happen.

Nathan Kroon is one of the Student Leaders at Living Education. He originally hails from Washington State, and is a 4th generation Christian. Currently, he works at Headquarters as a Video Editor, and is the Lead Landscaper at the LivingEd dorms. His hobbies include playing guitar, listening to music, drawing, and watching movies.

Forum Summary: Be a Giver

Author: Sabrielle McNair | Student Leader, Living Education – Charlotte, 2022-23

Estimated Reading Time: 3 min.

Mr. Gaylyn Bonjour began the forum with the statement, “God’s way is the way of giving…I want to focus on what I can give you, and what you can give to others,” and He’s teaching us to love one another through giving.

He emphasized that every speaker and teacher is doing their best to impart wisdom and knowledge to the students. In a post-speech interview, he explained that this topic was inspired by a member’s actions of giving that he had recently witnessed. Mr. Bonjour then stressed the points that; each presenter and teacher over the next nine months will be giving of themselves, every student giving of themselves to the best of their ability would be following the example set by God the Father and Jesus Christ.

Give like God

By drawing on John 3:16, Mr. Bonjour explained that God gave His most precious possession to humankind, and in doing so, exemplified the type of giving He wants us to show. Mr. Bonjour gave the point that each day is a clean slate–our sins are wiped, and given a ground zero to try to stay within God’s ways. Yet because of God’s mercy towards us, mercy and forgiveness is what is expected of us towards our fellow man. Quoting Romans 12:10, Mr. Bonjour explained the passage, “Preferring one another [means] esteeming others higher than ourselves. God wants us to see the value of other people and put them first.” He pointed the students towards a question that focuses the mind, by asking yourself, “How can I help you to move forward, (or) be a better person?” That’s an opportunity from God to give to one another.

Learn to Give to Others

Mr. Bonjour also emphasized the importance of giving to those around us. “You are created for the benefit of other people.”  Each person has the ability to have an impact when they learn from God’s example of how to love one another (1 John 4:10-11). We have to change how we treat different people according to their requirements. Yet he also reminded students that different abilities are given to us by God. We each have different ways we can reach others and we should take advantage of that. By asking the question, “Can we help those around us to have a little better existence?” that’s caring as God does.

Overcome Obstacles 

Mr. Bonjour told the students, “Every obstacle that you face is an opportunity to overcome,” and how you do that is through processes established by God. Citing Matthew 18 as the format we can all follow to gain our brother, God puts these systems in place for a reason. He wants the individuals to deal with each other, reason together, and understand each other. Mr. Bonjour then gave the point that self-evaluation is the key for how we can give of ourselves continually,  “If we would judge ourselves we would not need to be judged. If we would look at ourselves and correct ourselves, when Jesus Christ comes back he won’t have to correct us because we’ve done that through the Holy Spirit and His word.” We can then change as we allow God to work in our lives. 

Make a Difference 

God has given you a situation from which you can gain. Every individual that comes through here wants to give you something for you to take away, to grow in the graciousness and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. “What you do today and how you are with society will speak in the future because God’s called you and you do make a difference.” Though we cannot change others, if we begin the process of making ourselves as lights to the world, people will notice. Mr. Bonjour emphasized the fact that as young people, we aren’t perfect, but God is not yet done with us.

Student Life: Orientation Trip 2022

Author: Kaleb Johnson | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2022-23

Estimated Reading Time: 4 min.

Living Education–Charlotte does orientation a little differently than most places.

Rather than beginning classes immediately like most learning institutions, Living Ed. has an “Orientation Trip” to Blowing Rock, NC. This was a welcome difference for me, and I found this trip much more engaging than the orientations I had been to during my time at university. In this post, I’ll share with you what we did on this trip and why I found it much more enjoyable than most orientations.

Leaving for Blowing Rock, NC.

On Sunday afternoon, nine students, along with student leaders and faculty, piled into three cars, and we took off on the three hour trip from the dorms in Charlotte to the cabins we were staying at in Blowing Rock. Fortunately, the staff are all excellent drivers, and we did arrive safely and intact. To our delight (or at least mine), we found that dinner had been prepared, and we had a fine meal together in the main cabin allowing us students to get to know each other and to get to know the staff. 

First Day of Orientation 

On Monday morning, we had breakfast and then headed up to a conference room for the instructors to talk to us about the program. Mr. McNair began by introducing the principles of the program, and then Mr. Frank gave us the frank history of education in the Church, highlighting its importance. Following this, Mr. McNair gave us tips on succeeding in this program and in life. Miss Ross then introduced the role music has in the program and gave specific advice to the ladies in the program. Before lunch, Mr. Ruddelson focused on serving the local Charlotte congregation and each other and gave us practical advice for living together in peace. And then we took a break for lunch. 

In the afternoon, Mr. Tlumak shared some of his life experiences and told us how to get the most out of the next nine months. Then, Mr. McNair showed us a motivational speech, explained the program’s expectations from each of us, and then challenged us to really embrace the program and grow as much as we can. 

The Blowing Rock Tour

After being sufficiently informed and motivated, we went to tour the Blowing Rock park. When we got there, we found a slight issue with the weather that day. We could not see anything. The fog was so thick that we could only see about thirty feet in front of us! This supplied an endless amount of jokes regarding objects we could “see” on the horizon, and the visit ended up being a great experience that all of us students share. 

Whitewater Rafting 

On Tuesday morning, we all had breakfast together again before we cleaned up our cabins and left them tidy. We packed into the three cars again and departed for Boone, NC, for Whitewater rafting. Mr. McNair politely informed us that the water would be a little bit cold. When we got into the water, we discovered that it was indeed a little bit cold, about 40℉ to be precise. All the students, Mr. McNair, Miss Ross, and Mr. Ruddelson divided up into two rafts and shoved off into the frosty rapids. We felt every splash of water and relished every break in the sun on the way down. Despite the frigid temperature, we all jumped in the water and swam around, and the two rafts engaged in some friendly splashing and water gun fights. After we pulled the rafts out of the frosty river, we changed into dry clothes and then departed for the dorms in Charlotte. 


Living Education – Charlotte doesn’t immediately begin with classes with the expectation that the students will build friendships along the way, despite all the stress and distractions that come with the beginning of a semester. Rather, this program begins with a little adventure. This experience allows the new students to get to know each other in a stress-free environment, lets the instructors introduce themselves as individuals and not just teachers, and gives the new students a shared memory that they can use to establish relationships between each other that they will continue to build over the course of the year. 

Forum Summary: What are your pillars?

Author: Kaleb Johnson | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2022-23

Estimated Reading Time: 4 min.

In his recent forum, Mr. Smith educated the Living Education–Charlotte students on pillars and how they affect our view of the world.

He explained how we could examine ourselves to identify our current pillars, and what beliefs the students need to prioritize in their lives. He shared his top three pillars of belief and encouraged the students to use the time in this program to examine themselves and build a strong foundation. 

Finding Our Pillars of Belief

Mr. Smith began by asking the students to make a list of five basic things we believed were true. The students obliged him and produced a list ranging from the mundane to the profound. Mr. Smith then proclaimed a startling truth: Every belief we have affects how we view the world around us.“[Worldview is] a collection of things that help your mind to interpret everything you look at. What’s good; what’s wrong; what’s true; what’s false.” These things are facts, misunderstandings, experiences, and assumptions that we have made through our life, and they affect our understanding of reality.

We may not comprehend why we have certain opinions about an object or behavior, but our perception of that object or behavior is based on beliefs that we possess. As Mr. Smith said, “Every belief we have is a pillar; it just may not be supporting much.” He then told the students, “The challenge for you, at this age, is to create as accurate a worldview as you can so that you see the world rightly.” Society tries to convince us that there is no objective reality, but true Christians must strive to see the world as God does. This means examining all our worldviews to see if they are in line with God, and then uprooting the beliefs that support erroneous worldviews. In addition, we need to strengthen the pillars of belief that support a godly worldview so they are solid enough to endure the trials and temptations that will attempt to shake them. 

Choosing the Right Pillars

Again, Mr. Smith had the students write down beliefs, but this time we were to write down three beliefs that we considered to be “load-bearing” pillars, meaning supports that were most essential to our interpretation of reality. Then, Mr. Smith revealed the three foundational pillars he had derived over years of consideration. His first pillar is the belief that God exists. As Mr. Smith elaborated, this pillar is critical as it supports so much of his worldview and conduct of life. If it were to fall, many other pillars would crumble as well. Thus, it is imperative that a true Christian strengthen and solidify this belief.

Then, he moved on to his second pillar—Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Mr. Smith put this as the second most important pillar, citing John 17:3 and the criticality of knowing Christ. Furthermore, these two beliefs can support one another. We can trust what Christ reveals about the nature of God, and we can prove that Christ lived and was raised from the dead, a miracle which requires a God.

For the third pillar, Mr. Smith brought forward his belief that the Bible is the word of God. Any doubt on this third pillar can be cured by the first two, as Christ said that “the scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). And by extension, much of the life of Christ and the nature of God is delineated within the Holy Bible. Further Godly beliefs are important and necessary, but these three pillars build a structure that bears much of the load of an accurate and godly worldview.

Strengthening and Refining Our Pillars

Mr. Smith concluded by encouraging the students to strengthen these load-bearing pillars by putting in “time, effort, prayer, and meditation.” As he said further, “These are things that are deserving of our time, and yet we rarely give them that kind of time.” Mr. Smith admonished the students to use this time, while we are still young, to consider our beliefs, our worldview, and the strength of our convictions. Trials will come in life and challenge one’s beliefs, and these godly pillars of belief must be strong. A true Christian must uproot those pillars that support bad and faulty worldviews as they manifest themselves in that Christian’s life. 

Forum Summary: The Temptations of Leadership

Author: Ryan Price | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2021-22

Estimated Reading Time: 5 min.

For the last forum of the second semester, Mr. Jonathan McNair wanted to express that the next generation of God’s Church will need leaders, and the Living Education–Charlotte program has given the students the opportunity to fill that role.

God will give the ability to lead to those called to do so. However, Satan will also tempt them to use their abilities and reputation for selfish gain. Mr. McNair referred to the account of the temptation of Jesus Christ in Matthew 4 as a prime example of this. Noting that this trial immediately followed Christ’s baptism, he encouraged the students to consider that when one is successfully growing as a Christian, they should prepare for increased temptations. He then examined the three temptations that Christ faced, which we too will have to face throughout our lives.

Temptation 1: Pain and Pleasure

Mr. McNair defined maturity as the ability to delay pleasure and endure pain. The mark of immaturity is just the opposite. We live in a very immature culture that is driven by the immediate pleasures of sin and strives to avoid pain at any cost. Looking to Christ’s example, we can see in Matthew 4:2–4 that after forty days of fasting, He was incredibly hungry. There’s nothing wrong with being hungry, and Christ certainly had the power to make bread for Himself, but Satan was tempting Him to use His powers for selfish reasons. Paralleling this with our own lives, Mr. McNair explained that God did not give us our gifts and abilities for our benefit, but the benefit of others. He then asked the students to consider how they are using their abilities. Sometimes, to serve others, you must delay gratification, even going without it entirely. 

Mr. McNair then explained that another aspect of this temptation is self-reliance. We must look to God for our unmet needs because we will never be able to fully solve our problems without Him. As Matthew 6:25–39 tells us, God knows exactly what we need, so we should focus on growing as Christians and have faith that He will provide.

Temptation 2: Popularity and Praise

The second test is a test of integrity. Mr. McNair defined having integrity as being the same person in public and in private, having your beliefs match your actions. Success is a powerful measure of integrity because those who achieve it are put in the spotlight, and people will be watching them. If handled poorly, success can destroy people. However, it is possible to be a successful leader and maintain your integrity. 

Looking again to Christ’s example, we can see in Matthew 4:5–7 that He was taken by Satan to the temple. This is significant because the temple was one of the most public buildings in Jerusalem. In tempting Him to jump, Satan was goading Christ to prove Himself and show that He was the Messiah in a dramatic fashion. This was a temptation to use His abilities to draw attention to Himself. 

Mr. McNair then asked the students to consider whether they use their abilities to glorify God or glorify themselves. How we react when we receive praise and when others receive praise is a test of character. If we don’t concern ourselves with popularity and maintain an attitude of humility, we can keep praise from going to our heads.

Temptation 3: Prosperity and Possessions

This is a test of priority. As potential members of God’s family, we have the opportunity to attain great possessions and honor. But Mr. McNair warned that our goal should be to live such a life that we can serve with Christ in helping others, not so that we can attain riches. Christ is going to be King, but His goal was to redeem humanity and bring them into His family, not to attain the riches and glory that come with kingship. In verses 8–9 we can see that Satan was tempting Christ with compromising His purpose in life by worshiping him and avoiding the suffering He would have to go through to attain kingship. Mr. McNair prompted the students to consider how they will handle these things. 

The key to overcoming this temptation is to develop a generous heart and spirit. To illustrate this further, Mr. McNair referred to Matthew 16:24–26, explaining that the desire for success and riches can consume us, so we must be careful that we don’t get our priorities mixed up in life. How we use our blessings will reflect where our priorities are. Mr. McNair warned the students to not let their stuff become their world, but to generously use the things they have to impact others positively.

None of us are immune to temptation. Mr. McNair warned the students that as they begin the next phase of their lives, they may have to face challenges that will surprise them, and some of those challenges will revolve around leadership. Mr. McNair explained that we will only be able to serve as leaders if we can properly handle these temptations, as Christ only began His ministry after He overcame Satan. We will have to prove ourselves and practice dealing with these challenges. If we do, we will be able to lead effectively and successfully, just like our example, Jesus Christ.

Forum Summary: The Seven C’s for Navigating Life

Author: Ryan Price | Student, Living Education – Charlotte, 2021-22

Estimated Reading Time: 4 min.

With the Living Education–Charlotte semester drawing to a close, Dr. Douglas Winnail wanted to share with the students seven principles—all starting with the letter C—that would help them through life.

He explained that if we focus on these things periodically throughout our lives, they’ll keep us from making some common mistakes, and our lives will be better for it.

1. Character

Character is who you are. Dr. Winnail asked the students, “How would you describe yourself? How do [others] see you?” He then referred to Exodus 18:21 to illustrate that character is a very important quality God looks for in leaders and potential members of His Family. If we are to lead in the Kingdom, we’ll need to develop the kind of character God can trust. Dr. Winnail emphasized that character is one of the most important qualities we can develop in this life. The way we can do this is by making the right choices. Our choices guide our character development, so, when faced with temptation, we must stand strong.

2. Competence

“Whatever field you go into, strive to become the best.” Dr. Winnail encouraged the students to develop the skills they’ll need and get the best information and education on whatever career they choose. But we should apply this approach to every aspect of our lives, not just our careers. Dr. Winnail referred to the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 as an example of competence. He encouraged the students to try many things and, when they find something that fits them, try to develop the skills they need to be the best in it.

3. Commitment

Ecclesiastes 9:10 tells us that whatever we decide to do, we should do it with all our might. Dr. Winnail advised that we carefully consider what it is that we’re going to put that effort into. We should think about where we want to go in life and why we want to go there, asking God to help guide us to where He can best use us. Once we’ve decided on a path and have determined that it’s the right way to go, we must be committed to it to find success. When we’re baptized, we’re committing to a way of life—but, as with Abraham and Isaac, God may test us to see how committed we really are.

4. Courage and Conviction

It will take courage and conviction to follow through on that commitment. Dr. Winnail referred to 1 Thessalonians 5:21 to explain that when it comes to our beliefs, we must take the time to prove them. We need to prove that there is a God and that He has a plan because it will take courage and conviction to live His way in this world. There will be trials and temptations, but we can have that courage if we trust in God.

5. Compassion and Concern

In the end times, people will only care about themselves. However, we have been called to come out of this world and care for other people. Dr. Winnail encouraged the students to consider how what they do in life can help other people. We should look for ways to serve others and notice their needs. Dr. Winnail advised that we should ask God to open doors for us that will allow us to serve others in a greater capacity.

6. Communication

Referring to Proverbs 31:26, Dr. Winnail explained that we can develop kindness as we speak to people and that we can learn to speak wisely by reading through the Proverbs. Many social issues stem from a lack of communication, and the Bible has a lot to say about that. For instance, if we have a problem with someone, the Bible admonishes that we talk to them. Dr. Winnail encouraged the students to develop the capacity to talk and build relationships with people.

7. Conversion

What does it mean to be converted? Signs of conversion are the fruits of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:15-26 and a desire and determination to do things God’s way as opposed to our own. Conversion also involves being teachable and a willingness to forgive—including going to someone to apologize for an offense you caused. 

Dr. Winnail expressed that these principles will help us navigate through life. He encouraged the students to consider these “Seven Cs” and the lessons we have learned this year so our lives will be richer and more successful.