Thursday, April 28, 2016

Reflecting at 15 Years - Love

As I continue to reflect on my last fifteen years, I move to perhaps the hardest part for me, at least sometimes. Learning is not always easy, but it is something I typically enjoy. Learning for the sake of doing is a part of living. But why do we do what we do? Not just because we have learned it, though that is important, but a deeper purpose must exist.

The name of the post includes “love” so that is obviously where I am heading. But before I get there, let me state that I am a pretty practical guy. On certain aspects I can get a little overzealous, yet I have found myself caring and planning less on other aspects during the last few years. For instance, I majored in business and finance in college, but now I don’t overly focus on personal monetary issues. That isn’t to say I am negligent, but in the past, I would spend hours and hours and hours and hours planning down to the penny, and then some.

So, being practical, I want to make sure that what I am doing has a purpose. The purpose may not mean much to others, but as long as I see value (especially in the short and long terms), then it is worth it. Again, a for instance. This series of blog posts may not be read by many, but it is encouraging me to reflect, and I can come back to them in the future. And by posting them here, instead of just an entry on my computer, others may find a simple nugget of encouragement. So, this is worth it.

Personally, I have a vision statement, a mission statement, a strategy, and steps to full these. I have also developed each of these items for my role as pastor and for the church that I pastor. Some overlap certainly exists because who I am as a person influences my role as a pastor, as does the church I serve. But who I am as a person also transcends (or should) my role in any local church, although it should blend into any church as well.

But, and now we get to the core of this, while these statements help to keep me on track, if they do not incorporate love into the statements, or I do not choose to live by loving, then as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13, what I am doing has no lasting value. It isn’t just what we do (even if that is in keeping with our goals), it is why we do it (i.e. not just to fulfill a goal). We were created by a loving God in order that we might love Him and love others (Mark 12.30-31). And our love is not self-generated, it is a reflection of God. We love because He first loved us (1 John 4.19).

I believe my immediate family would profess that I have always loved them. Not perfectly, but constantly. I appreciate how my relationship with my wife has developed during our years together. I have enjoyed watching my children grow and am now learning to appreciate them as young adults. All of this is a part of love, but to love is more than about family, it is to be a part of overall living.

I have learned. I have begun to live. Now I need to better love. I need to love what I do (the living part), but I need to love as I do as well. I need to be more intentional in loving others and investing in them to help them grow as people have done for me over these past few years. Recently, a friend told me that he believes I am loving toward others. I appreciated those remarks more than he could know, but I know that more of me needs to love more of others more often.

So a part of these next fifteen years, is to learn more about to love others, to live with a greater capacity to love, and to express that love in ways that are appropriate in any given moment. I will never have the full capacity to love like Jesus on this side of eternity, but if I fix my eyes on Jesus, my faith (and love) will become more perfect over time.

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