Someone inquired last week, “Now that you’re 70, what are the most important lessons that have stuck?”
I’m sure there are more than many that didn’t.
The first lesson occurred–not only important in ministry, but for each of us no matter our circumstance or vocation–came from a pastor-buddy in Elmhurst, Illinois, Ernie Huntzinger, “Mark, we each need to realize we are not someone else’s opinion.”
Ah, how sharp with clear focus. So often what others think of us does more than guide; it shapes. In ministry that had abundant truth, at times incapacitating. I recall how I forgot a church member’s neighbor’s surgery–had been told to be with him. I flat-forgot. Well, I never heard the end of it, because this family kept lists, mainly a gallery of what wasn’t done correctly. [I never asked what grades they got in school!]
That mistake labeled my ministry–in their eyes.
A second lesson that is possible, but at times challenging: May our willingness to understand be greater than our need to judge. Actually related to the first, in terms of how we regard others.
Not sure, but it seems to me most people live life and regard others based upon their self-image. The ones who have high self-regard tend to look at life favorably.
A good way to learn this is to ask someone, “Please tell me the five most important events in your life.” Almost without exception the list will be more a function of self-image in that moment than anything else.
A third lesson and I must admit I’ve used it with much energy and encouragement, especially with churches trying to not be insane: that is, doing the same thing over and over expecting different results, is this: If we look more at our rear-view mirror than through our windshield, we’ll probably have an accident.
You can put in the paragraph detailing that.
So it is on a Tuesday morning…Diane and I had the joy of watching Andrew’s Schreiner Men’s Basketball team in their first scrimmage last night at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. Goodness, Andrew’s team did so well…especially for the first scrimmage. Their season begins in two weeks…we’ll be there as often as we can to clap and cheer–but not yell so loud we end up with a technical foul! [That’s a story for another day…the day in Copenhagen.]
So it is, hello Tuesday…you’re looking promising through the windshield.