fifty-eight years. the five most important lessons i’ve ever learned. definitely not an easy task, but one that forced me to dive into the deep end…and find the jewels.
here are a few of the life changers that didn’t make the final cut:
- drive slower. enjoy the journey.
- flexibility is next to godliness.
- don’t sweat the small stuff.
- no pain, no gain.
- discipline and punishment are not the same.
- the glass is always half full.
- i don’t always need to be right.
- say you’re sorry. don’t ask to be forgiven.
- legalism sucks the joy out of living.
- doubt fuels the search for truth.
- the church is family.
- i’m expendable.
- people can’t meet our most important needs.
anyway…back to numero uno. after a lot of thought, there is no question this is the deal breaker of my life. it is the life lesson that comes into play every day of my life, with every person i interact with.
number one: “treat everybody the way you think jesus would.”
this really isn’t one of those designed to contain all the other life lessons that didn’t make it into the top five. this one stands head and shoulders above the others. it stands on its own. its requirements and payback are without equal.
a number of years ago, a youth group up north came up with this creative idea during a bible study where they were studying through a book called, “in his steps”. the book is a novel in which the characters ask themselves the question, “what would jesus do?”…and then to the best of their knowledge and ability, they attempt to do it. and astounding things result.
in response to the book, the youth group made bracelets with the letters, WWJD…and a national phenomena was started. and much of it ended up pretty bad. WWJD, which had such a humble and honest beginning, was turned into a joke in american pop culture. and even though i never wore the bracelet, the book and its premise changed me back in the late 70’s, when i first read it.
it’s a valid question. it penetrates the heart. it gives definition and substance to our interaction with people. its intensely practical. and though the answers are sometimes demanding and unfair and often push me completely outside my personal comfort zone, i choose this question as a way of life.
the answers are not a mystery. the bible clearly paints a picture of the way jesus acted…how he thought…how he treated people…where his heart was…what his priorities were. and to follow in his footsteps is our greatest calling.
i am compelled to forgive people with crazy unpredictability. to forgive when they don’t deserve it. to forgive when they don’t expect it. to forgive when they don’t return it. i have to leave vengeance and repayment to god. i always need to be the conduit of grace and mercy that god can use, if he so chooses. i don’t ever want to be unprepared to be that person.
i want to give people room to fail and make mistakes and even shipwreck their lives, without judging or rejecting them. i want to be there for them. i know jesus would be. i know he would be for me. somebody needs to earn the right to speak truth into people’s lives. at heart, i am no different from anybody i walk with. we are all broken and needy and imperfect. we need to stand by each other. especially when there’s a mess.
everybody needs to be treated the way jesus would treat them. my enemies need love. those who oppose my values need my understanding and patience. kindness should dominate every word that comes out of my mouth. anything other than that falls completely short of what jesus would do.
and there is no greater lesson than that to learn.