As always, it was an enjoyable Father’s Day weekend. I am so thankful for my family and it brings me a great deal of joy to be with my wife, children and grandchildren. I always get my favorite dish (home made shepherd’s pie) and favorite dessert (coffee cake). I enjoy the day, as do many of the dads that I know. The day led me to think of a quote that I had written down several years ago that seems primarily focused on men. It goes like this:
“Most men would rather be envied for their achievements than admired for their character.” (Unknown)
I wonder how often this is true. There is something about achieving that seems to ring the bell for a lot of men. We want to be successful, to make a difference, and to do a little better than the people around us. I often get together with guys and one of the first items of discussion has to do with what we do. We casually talk about how many hours we work, how busy we are, the stuff we do at work or home. Yet I do not see as much passion often when it comes to character. I am left asking myself if I am as focused on my ability to serve my wife and kids when no one is looking, do my best when it will not get noticed, go the extra mile for those who need it, and the list could go on.
Yet it seems that when I die, the people that will stand up at my funeral will focus on my character more than what I achieved. For myself, I want to be building that legacy today. So hopefully, I can live my life with a focus on my character, and let my achievements be what they may. I wonder if this quote would be true of you?
The quote I am focusing on this week came from a blog post I read a while back, although it may have some from someone else. Honestly, when you do the research, it seems that most quotes come from someone else. Regardless, this is an interesting one to me.
"Humility is the ability to live life unoffended." (Jim Rudd)
It seems to me that we live in a culture of offense. People are offended at the littlest things. All you have to do is listen to the people around you. They are offended by what others say or what they post on social media. They are offended by what others believe. They are offended by the actions of others, by how they act, their attitudes, whether they cut them off in line at the grocery store. Christ followers are not exempt. They too often are offended at something that someone does. In the process, it seems that they are bothered all the time.
To be offended is to be irritated, bothered, angered or resentful of another person. The only way to be offended is, at some level, to think that you are better or more correct than another person. In some respect, you believe your way of thinking, speaking, or living is better than the other person. After all, we are never offended by the person who acts exactly like we do or who believes exactly as we believe. At its heart, being offended begins with pride.
That’s why when I saw this quote, it resonated with me. If I am truly humble, then what people will do will not offend me. Even if everything they say or do is contrary to my life and I disagree completely with them, I will not get bothered by it. Paul wrote in Philippians to “consider others better than ourselves.” In the context of the letter he was writing, he was instructing those in the church to put others first, to consider their opinions, their circumstances and their emotions before their own and how to love them no matter what.
I wonder if we did this if we would truly become humble, gracious people and not only find the ability to live unoffended, but with a lot more peace and compassion as well.
I am back this Monday morning fresh off of being at our National Council for the Christian & Missionary Alliance, the group of churches that our church is a part of. It was a wonderful time of hearing stories about how God is moving, meeting with people, enjoying great worship and more. It was rejuvenating and it was challenging. God always speaks to me through these events, and the quote I want to share was not directly from this week but is one that was reinforced during the week.
"When it comes to following Jesus don't become 'A+ producers' and 'F abiders'." (Unknown)
I know of few statements that describe my life's battle better. I so want this life to be a fruitful, useful life. I want to make a difference. So I work hard. I plan. I work long hours. I brainstorm. I meet with people. I build vision and processes. I make schedules and plans. All of this is good . . . but the thing that makes all the difference is not the great production of my life, but the depth to which I know and experience Jesus Christ.
My first responsibility as a human being is not measured in what I produce, but in how I know and pursue God. This may seem obvious to those well versed in religious life, but too often it is not reflected in my time and energy. Too many A+ producers are worn out, depressed, anxious and tired. I find myself in that place too often. Yet those who abide well are those who seem to have tapped an inexhaustible reserve of energy to love others. The irony is that when we abide with no other purpose than to know Jesus better, we end up as more effective people with far less stress and worry. That is my challenge. To become an "A+ abider" and let God worry about my production.
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