Downhill Lessons

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

I'll officially be 40 years old in a month...in western terms, that is. When I was in Nepal last year, I was informed that on my 39th birthday, eastern culture says I'm actually 40...because I'm technically in my fortieth year of life. In western terms, that's considered "over the hill", which means it's all downhill from here. This begs the question as to what I've learned the first half of my life. The answer is, not much...since I'm a late bloomer. What this means is that on the one hand I could say the first half of my life was spent being largely dumb. However, on the other hand I could say that I'm just getting started! So what have I learned? That's the point of this series of random posts which are meant simply to remind me of the valuable lessons I've learned during the first half of my life.

Lesson One: Growing Stuff Takes Lots of Time


I am so incredibly impatient. I'm wired to be a self-starting, fast-moving, "do it, or get off the pot" kind of fella. There's too much to do, and so little time to do it all in. But that's not the pace at which stuff gets done...nor the pace in which people grow.

I've spent half of the first half of my life in leadership positions of various capacities, whether in ministry or in business. The most valuable lesson it's taken me 40 years to learn is that stuff grows really...really........really.............

.....s........

......l........

......o......

.......w.....

Do you have any earthly idea what that does to my insides? I'm going crazy, most of the time. My stomach is churning...my mind is looking for work arounds to get it done faster...my feet are tired from pacing as I think and strategize it all through to move it all along just a little faster.

Then I learned this lesson about the pace of getting stuff done: the journey is just as important as the objective. The game is just as important as the final score. The race is just as important as the finish line. The hunt is just as important as the shot. You get the point.

God is all about sanctifying us, conforming us to the image of Jesus Christ. He wants us to learn. We don't learn when we go to fast. We just get stuff done. Learning is just as important as getting something done. God is after the renewal of my mind, which is a process. He wants to discipline me, to teach me His ways, which requires classroom time. In short, all those verses in the Bible about waiting on God...He wants me to do that.

Another lesson I've learned about getting stuff done is this: if this is what God wants for me, then He wants that for other people, too. And if you're leading those people, THAT means you have to be patient with GOD'S process and agenda, and put yours to the side. It's all about HIS kingdom, and HIS will...not mine. This in turn means that there's no legitimate reason I have for getting all bent out of shape with someone for not changing fast enough. I wouldn't want someone breathing down my neck and getting all frustrated with me because I don't change fast enough. But I spent almost all of the first half of my life doing that to others. Hypocrisy is a lonely destination.

Apply this to the people I lead, starting with my wife and children. Life has been smoother since I learned these lessons. I'm more patient with my wife and my kids...and more importantly, with myself. When I got a hold of Biblical lessons taught about God's grace, and the Lord's Prayer, for example, I see God's forbearance and patience with me. This MUST trickle down in abundance to my wife and children....and to those I lead in any setting. I cannot be anything other than Jesus-like in my journey with others, because that's what Jesus is like toward me and with me in my journey.

So what about the next half of my life? I expect to grow more and more patient and kind and forbearing with everyone. It should get better and better. People should like me more and more. I should see more and more progress as I'm more and more patient with process. I'll be a better grandparent to my oldest son than I have been a parent. I'll be a better parent to the other three. And maybe I'll be patient enough to own a puppy without wanting to kill it! But let's not go TOO far!

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