At church yesterday, a woman came up to me to tell me how thankful she was for my wife. I had been sitting near the back of the auditorium while Julia sang on stage with the band. After the service ended, the lady–the mother of one of Julia’s voice students–stopped me to say how thankful she was for how Julia is investing in the life of her daughter. I was quick to tell the mom that Julia felt equally blessed by her daughter.
She continued to express her gratitude, explaining that there is a gap sometimes with teenagers where the parents don’t have sway for a season. She was so grateful that Julia was able to come in and fill that gap for her daughter and be a godly woman for her daughter to look to.
“I understand completely,” I said, as I pointed to my two boys, who were sitting at our feet, engaged in some sort of game on Julia’s iPad. “We’re happy to be that for her now, and you can join us in praying that someone is able to come stand in the gap for our boys when that season comes for us.”
She smiled and nodded in agreement, and we left feeling mutually encouraged.
Follow the Leader
I’m thankful to have had people over the years who have invested time and energy in me. If I can draw the analogy between people and software, I’d point out that both are always in the process of iteration and improvement, with the earliest versions being the most buggy, featureless, and crash-prone. I’m incredibly grateful for the friends and mentors who put up with a lot of bugs and crashes to stay with me and see me through to better iterations of myself.
To the degree that I am thankful for their investment in me, I want to always be intentional about seeking out opportunities to mentor and positively impact the lives of those who are just a little ways behind me in life. I also want to be faithful to encourage Julia to do the same. Obviously, Jesus had his own Disciples, and Paul did, too. He puts it so well in 1 Corinthians 11:1:
Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.
That is what biblical mentorship is all about.
Short Time, Eternal Impact
When I think of my life on this earth and consider how short 80 years really is, it makes me realize a couple of things:
- At this point, my time on earth is close to half way over.
- I need to make good use of the time I have left.
What will my legacy be? Where will I invest my effort while I’m here? Which strings will continue to resonate after I’m gone? I love the quote from the movie, Gladiator:
I will leave a few echoes, I’m sure. Some of them will die out faster than others. But the ones that will reverberate the longest are the ones that echo down through the generations. When I spend time over lunch with some young guy trying to figure out if he should ask his girlfriend to marry him, God willing, I’m talking to someone’s future husband. When Julia invests her time in a high school-aged girl, God willing, that’s someone’s future mother–or grandmother. These people will undoubtedly go on to influence and lead many others, so the investment in them has the great potential for a return.
It can be difficult to see past the mundane routines of life, but I want to see every opportunity through a spiritual lens and ask myself, “will this have value in eternity?” and focus intently on the things where I can say “yes.” I often fail miserably at this, so I am thankful for God’s grace.
Whose World Are You Rocking?
So that’s the real question, right? Who are you impacting? How are you making your life count beyond these 80 or so years you might have? If you aren’t sure, I have a few tips for you:
- Live in community. If you only crawl out of your shell in the morning, then crawl back in each night, you’ll find it hard to build relationships and invest yourself in others. You’ll also miss out on giving others opportunities to invest in you. (Hint: This is what the Church is for.)
- Look for targets. I don’t mean to objectify people by using that word, but look for people around you that you can impact. (Hint: Teenagers and kids are a great place to start, and younger kids will think you are cool just for showing up. They are also very forgiving of mistakes.)
- Give yourself away. I prefer life on my terms. We all do. But giving yourself away means sacrificing time and schedules to serve others. If you have a family of your own, always make sure you give yourself away to them first. Otherwise, volunteer at a local charity or co-op. Mentor or tutor kids after school. Opportunities are everywhere.
Are you sacrificially giving your time and energy away to others? Feel free to share your story in the comments!