It’s so very easy to go through life giving only casual glances at people and places that we encounter. It is even easier to give little attention to the people who mean the most to us. Sometimes, we even get it all backwards when it comes down to making moments in our lives really count for something. We fall into the trap of spending time in the urgent things of life and ignore the important. A ringing cell phone sometimes becomes more important than a one-on-one conversation with a loved one.
I was recently reminded of how so very important it is to “live in the moment.” What I mean by living in the moment is fully engaging in the moment. Not just the casual ‘hello’ to someone or the polite, yet superficial, conversation that we are tempted to have with some people. Not living in the moment is equivalent to throwing away a precious gift without unwrapping it.
My mom had a very unexpected heart attack while she came to spend time with me at one of my speaking engagements. She has had excellent health all of her life and we had no reason to think that things could change so quickly from one moment to the next. There we were walking the beautiful sites in Waikiki when she told me she felt ill. Just a few minutes later we were climbing into an ambulance and rushing through heavy traffic on the way to the hospital.
This made me think about the things that I want to make sure she hears from me such as “thank you for guiding me in my faith,” “I am thankful for your example,” “I love you” and so much more. Life has very unexpected turns and we can so easily miss the most important aspects of our life if we do not live in the moment.
Let’s enjoy the gifts we have been given in the form of people who are a part of our lives. Let’s fully engage in the experiences that we are also given as gifts on a daily basis. There is so much to enjoy when we take time to pause and consciously engage with every person and in every situation. Sometimes our time may be truly limited but, I venture to say that, most of the time we can pause and enjoy the moment.
Is that ringing cell phone truly more important than a conversation with our mother, or father, or best friend, or employee, or . . . ? I don’t think so. I am so glad that my mother was treated quickly and that she is back on her feet again. I want every moment with her to count. The people I meet and the places I visit have taken on a whole new significance in my life. I want to “live in the moment” and unwrap those gifts completely.
As I look over at the beautiful Hawaiian beaches, I am thinking about what it really takes to get better at something. I just finished speaking several times over the last few days and now I get a chance to enjoy the beauty of this place before getting back on a plane and head home. This is a great place to relax and think.
I am thinking that there are probably few people, if any, who enjoy hearing about things that they don’t do well at. Many seem to be happier by going through life unaware of the “blind spots” in their personalities. I cannot say that I love to hear about my blind spots but, over the years, I have come to terms with the concept of self-evaluation.
I call it “self” evaluation because I have to initiate it myself and not because I just ask myself what I need to improve. This process of self-evaluation must include other people. They are the ones who can see our blind spots where we can’t. Many cringe at the thought of asking someone to honestly speak to them about areas of improvement. But there comes a time when we have to just get over our own selves and be willing to listen to what others have to say.
I have made it a practice to look for people who think differently than I do and then I ask them if they are willing to share some truths with me. Some people eagerly accept the opportunity (sometimes I wish they were not so eager!) and provide invaluable feedback that I can apply in my life. Some people agree to provide me with feedback but do not follow through with honest feedback. You see, they feel that they need to be nice and only tell me good things. Even though I love to hear affirmations anytime of the day, that is not the assignment. But I understand that sometimes it is hard to give honest feedback to someone else.
Of course, there are those who take it upon themselves to provide their opinion and criticism even when they were not asked. This kind of feedback is even harder to take. In those cases, I am careful to double-check their comments and I even look at their motive.There may be some truth there, but their approach makes it difficult for me to find it.
I think that a life well lived can only happen through honest, and sometimes difficult, self-evaluation. Maturity comes as a result of experiences, challenges, and constant evaluation of our lives. More and more, I appreciate getting older because I know that I stand a chance of getting wiser too. Whether it is spiritual, emotional, or relational maturity that I seek, I must include a healthy dose of self-evaluation in order to achieve it.
This weekend I had an amazing experience speaking to 700 women up in the mountains at a camp called Hume Lake, with breathtaking Yosemite National Park clearly in view. We studied four different subjects: How to catch a vision for your life; How to memorize God’s Word for a lifetime; How to Walk through the dark night of your soul; and How to love life with incredible joy. There were laughter and tears.
Something for us all to consider: while a religious event like this conference was encouraging and motivating, it’s the hard daily work of biblical spirituality that we do with God that is the most significant.
One of the greatest highlights of my life and ministry is personally meeting Mother Teresa on four separate occasions. She inspired me to do the work that I am doing today with at-risk kids. She told me to “Go back to my own ‘Calcutta’ and ‘be Jesus’ to your people.” Basically that meant I should go to a place of great need and be part of the solution. After meeting with her I decided to create the Teach One to Lead One program along with other like minded people. Her mantra was giving to the poorest of the poor. My mantra is reaching the roughest of the rough — kids, that is. Now some 25 years later her influence is still producing fruit in my life. That is why I am so passionate about the role that mentoring plays in the life of another. What a joy to know that we can bless others by simply finding a need and meeting it.
You are probably aware that the civil war in Syria is more than a local crisis—the hardship is felt in our country, too. Washington is trying to figure out how to respond and what to do. While they are busy doing that, we here at CLI headquarters have already taken action and have launched a solution. Mind you, it is not a quick fix and we’re not packing our bags to go to Syria right now. But this solution is a hugely impactful, long-term way to handle crises like we’re seeing around the world.
The solution? The truth that was given to govern human life. The kids we are reaching are at-risk and in trouble, but we are challenging them to be young men and women who will not stand for such horrific acts of cruelty or self-oriented actions like we see in Syria. We want them to be leaders who will do good in this world.
Let’s turn the tide. Every time we replace evil with good we have opened the door for the positive. Every time we bring a solution to a crisis we become influential. You and I are doing something about this devastating crisis through the Teach One to Lead One® program.
Each dollar that you give to Teach One to Lead One . . .
- replaces evil with good
- brings healing to the nations
The more money you give, the more kids we can help. The more kids that we help, the sooner crises like this will be solved. Would you like to donate? Visit T1L1.org/donate.
Thank you for joining the Teach One to Lead One momentum.
Today I was reflecting on a conversation that I had with my brother Jerry over 20 years ago while we were both in seminary. He asked me what I hoped I would be able to accomplish in this life and I told him that I wanted to impact hundreds of thousands of people for Jesus. I wanted to make a HUGE impression on others for the Kingdom. I then asked him what he hoped he would be able to do in his lifetime. His answer startled me and somewhat disappointed me. He said, “I hope to be faithful—faithful to God, to my wife, to my kids, to the church and to myself—I want to be a faithful person.” I told him that was SO boring and that he was underselling his purpose in life and he should reach for something larger, greater and more spectacular.
Now some 20 years later, I’ve seen so much intentional unfaithfulness. I’ve seen people who have tried to make big impressions for God but living small, compromising lives. People compromising their morals and their walk with God. I have realized in my own life how easy it is to talk the “life” but how difficult it is to “walk” the life. As I reflect on this conversation with my brother Jerry, I believe he was right: the great accomplishment in life is to be faithful, faithful to those things that are the most important, like our relationship with Jesus, our friendship with our family and our integrity with ourselves. This is what makes the biggest impression for the Kingdom. Perhaps faithfulness is spectacular in God’s eyes.