When I graduated from college, I enrolled at a seminary that was considered unacceptable by pastors who were friends of my dad (also a pastor). Some of the leaders criticized me for my choice while others looked with disdain on my dad because of my decision. In that circle, there was pressure to conform to the group’s opinion (always cast as God’s opinion).

But rather than caving to the judgements of those around him, my dad told me not to worry about what others thought but to be faithful to whatever I felt God had put on my heart. With that simple posture, my dad’s courage helped to set me free.

Now with my own sons, I want to follow my dad’s example. I want to help my sons hear and follow the voice of love, not be enslaved to others’ expectations. I want to help them learn to obey God.

So I extend to them Paul’s encouragement to not “copy the behavior and customs of this world” (Romans 12:2). Or, as other Bible translations put it, to not “conform” to the world. To conform is to have some external force pressing upon us. God doesn’t want any other power to have that kind of sway over us. God wants far more than our conformity; He wants to transform us into new people (Romans 12:2).

As we’re renewed by God’s love and our minds are transformed to see the world from His perspective, we can begin to understand how to “know God’s will . . . which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2). In other words, as we become free from the burden of others’ expectations, we can more deeply walk into the fullness of life God has for us.

This is one of the most powerful callings in our relationships: to help set others free so that they can find their true, deep life in God.

NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: John 7:1-31