So I was reading this guy’s (who is an exceptional writer) blog and was inspired to write my own personal list of things I’ve learned from 2011. In other words, if I could go back in time and give January 2011 Luke some words of advice and wisdom, this list would pretty much cover it. 2011 was a great year, in spite of myself, 🙂 and I love this time of year because its a time of natural reflection and introspection: things I seem to do a bit too much anyway! Maybe you have a list too. If so, let me know! I’d like to see it! So here’s mine, in light of the New Year, which I’m sure is going to be filled with lots of new memories and lessons and experiences, here’s my list of lessons learned…
Keep in mind that my tone right now is directed towards myself … I’m trying not to get ‘preachy,’ unless I’m preaching to myself!
There is incredible power in forgiveness. I carried some things too long with me the beginning part of this year and realized that I missed out on some pretty good opportunities. The truth is, if you have any sort of emotional baggage that you find yourself lugging it around, the sooner you deal with it the better. There’s a reason why the Bible teaches that we ought not ‘let the sun go down in [your] anger,’ whether that is a 24-hour period, or an entire season of life. You may think that by holding on to your anger you are getting back at the person that you feel like owes you something, but in reality the only person you are hurting is yourself. This year I learned that God’s forgiveness for us in Christ is quite a powerful incentive for our forgiveness of other people.
Friends are important. I realized this year that I had been going through life without really valuing or seeking authentic and deep friendship with people. I can tend to sometimes lock myself in a room and read books all day and night. Sure, I’ve always had ‘friends,’ but I lacked in terms of choosing one or two people to pour into, to share life with, and to laugh with. This year I had one or two of those types of friends, and I realized what I’ve been missing out on for so long. Nothing sustained me or refreshed my soul more this year than the presence of a few people in my life who brought words of wisdom, clarity, and peace, and who created opportunities for me that I otherwise would not have had…
Read a good fiction once a month. Your imagination is one of the greatest gifts that God has given to you. Its the thing out of which you dream and hope and love. Feed it!
Most of the battle is simply ‘showing up.’ Its true in friendships… being there when people need you. Its true in physical workout. Its true in every job I’ve ever had. You can overanalyze all day long and exhaust all the obstacles in your mind, but sooner or later you have to show up and DO YOUR WORK. I read this book this fall and was reminded of this simple truth: work hard, every day. Get up early. Show up at work, whether that’s actually in an office or at Starbucks or sitting with your laptop on the couch. Put in your time. The more you ‘show up’ the more results you will get.
I’m at my best when I’m creating something. The theologian in me has always felt that I most reflect the image of God when I am doing what God does best: creating. This year I realized that I am the most fulfilled and challenged when I am not simply consuming the movies, the art, the books, and the products of everyone else around me, but when I make attempts, however feeble they may seem, at creating something. I don’t want to be merely a consumer … I want to be a creative.
Stop thinking about it so much and ask her out. Enough said.
Physical health and spiritual health are connected. I ran a half-marathon about a year ago. When I was training for it, I was the most positive, energetic, excited, and upbeat I’d been in a long time. Its because I was excercising every day and striving towards the accomplishment of a physical goal. I’m convinced now that if I’m not doing well physically, it is going to be hard for me to be focused intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, etc.
“Leadership” talk is often a misleading myth. Pick up the towel and figure out a way to serve. My upbringing and my college experience were ones in which ‘leadership’ was praised above all else, and where everyone is taught to strive for influence. The pressure to be a leader for so long weighed upon me that I felt that there was a certain way I had to carry myself that wasn’t really me. The beginning of this year marked a shift in my attitude towards anything “leadership.” I realized that it is way more important for me to follow Christ and to serve Him and please Him alone than to strive to be a ‘leader,’ according to the ways that my subcultures had defined that concept. I didn’t have to worry about being influential or being up front or being in command or being on stage, but rather I was free to joyfully serve those around me without needing approval of the crowd. This year also marked the end of the second year of youth ministry at a small church after being at a large church. For a lot of guys, that shift can be humbling…I used to preach to 600 plus people every week. Now I preach to 20. But the reality is that students have come to Christ because of my work in this community … I know that. I remember hearing a quote a long time ago from someone: ‘if you take care of the depth of your ministry, God will take care of the breadth.’ I don’t need to worry about applause, attention, stages, speaking engagements, promotions. God never called me to be a leader. He called me to be a follower. And followers of Jesus are those who pour out their lives in love for the sake of others. Ironically the moment you release your need to lead and give yourself to following Jesus is the moment that you are set free, and in the end, indeed, the greatest among all of us will be those who serve…