Staying the Course

not sure why i’ve been reminiscing quite a bit lately.

maybe it’s what old people do.

or maybe it’s because there’s a whole lot of good to remember.

one of the things i am most grateful for is the amazing training and mentoring i received as a young man…a young husband…a young father…and a young minister.

my twenties and thirties were filled with great teaching and bold people who dared to get into my life…and often into my face…and communicate truth into my world.   words i needed to hear.   realities that i wasn’t seeing on my own.   with candor and clarity and sensitivity.

my role in the process?  pay attention.   and let my pride be pounded.   and trust that god was working through these people who obviously loved me.

it was not always the simplest thing to do,  but it was always the best.

over time,  i have collected a list of statements…true statements…that have framed my life and ministry over four decades.   the truth of many of these statements were learned the hard way,  because i was blind,  hard-headed,  hard-hearted or just stupid.

but i’ve learned.   not everything,  but a lot.   and i’m still learning.   and i hope people don’t stop helping.

here are some lessons i’ve learned that have helped me stay the course:

understand the nature of deficit motivation.   we have reasons for doing everything we do…and our nature is to be selfish.   we all want to feel worthwhile…or be successful…or significant…or to belong…or to feel secure.   the problem is how we go about meeting those needs.   we can do things to meet those needs:  get a great job or find a husband or do something noteworthy or have a fat bank account or popular children  (deficit motivation).   or we can trust god and find our greatest needs met through a relationship with him.   (godly motivation).   it’s our choice.

accept that the majority of life is completely out of your control.   no matter how hard you work…how good you take care of yourself…how many rules you keep…how many hours you pray…there are no guarantees.    we live by faith and not by sight.   never be shocked when things don’t go as you have planned.   live by faith and not by sight.

hurt people hurt people.   most people don’t get up in the morning intent on hurting people.   hurting someone’s feelings is seldom premeditated.   i have been hurt deeply by people i loved…and who loved me… quite a few times during the years.   and i’m pretty sure it will happen again.   accepting this has always helped me be patient and treat people with compassion…instead of giving them back what they have given me.

forgive.   there has been no greater lesson for having long years of marriage and friendship and ministry.   don’t waste time wondering if people deserve your forgiveness.   give it anyway.   there is no better picture of the love of god and the character of christ than undeserved forgiveness.   how many times should we do this?   jesus said 70 times 7.   if you want to be legalistic about it,  that means 490 times.   so get busy forgiving.

enough for now.   more lessons to come.

as for north point,  it was a good sunday.   good friends.   good music.   new people.   hopefully,  true to torah.

live with grace this week.


3 thoughts on “Staying the Course

  1. “Toga, Toga, Toga’….oh Torah…sorry, John Belushi flashed in my mind. “Did we give up when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?”…

    On a serious note, good message and it provided a good discussion topic for our small group.

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