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5 Golden Chunks of Wisdom I Sifted in 2014 (from parenting, to losing a parent, to pastoring a church in a changing age)

heart fire guyIt’s a rear-view mirror kind of week.

The Christmas tree is about to go, and the New Year’s fireworks are on the verge. It makes you look back to see what wisdom was sifted from the past 365 days.

Amidst the dirt and grime that fall from the pan, there are some definite chunks of gold. Here are five in no particular order:

1. The Days Are Long But the Years Are Short
Someone said this to me recently about having kids. And I can totally relate.

I literally fell asleep on the couch this week while reading the kids bedtime stories. “Dad, wake up!”

My kids are small, so there is a lot of physical fatigue. I know others who are in the same boat. But even though the days seem “long,” the years are “short”—meaning that before long they’ll be asking for the car keys.

So if you’ve got young ones at home—cherish it. Time drags, but flies. And one day we will reminisce “Remember when?”

Tuck-ins and reassuring hugs, piling into the car for church and navigating 17 buckles, illness, first steps and world discovery. Ahhh.

2. Each Day Is A New Life—So Live It Like It Is
This was a favourite expression of my dad in the month leading up to his death. At first glance, maybe it looks like other “seize the day” things you’ve heard. But when you read it slowly, there’s a lot there.

And when you see someone you love in their final days actually doing their best to live it out—all the while their body brimming with cancer—it puts you on a mountain top of fresh air with the head-lifting hope of flying that vision forward in your own life.

My dad was not one for a lot of words. So when he had an insight, it carried weight.

Each day actually is a new life. Our life is a series of todays. But we often overly fret about yesterday or tomorrow, neglecting the opportunities for alive-ness right under our noses. To me it’s tied up with something else I’ve been thinking:

You can’t live your dream if you don’t have one. So if you don’t have one, get one.

For my dad, I got the sense that his dream toward the end was simply to cherish life and those you’ve been given. And he did. “Each day is a new life—so live it like it is.”

3. Let Go Of Who You Aren’t
For me, this one is about leadership in ordained ministry, but it applies to a whole variety of situations.

I’m so blessed to be a part of a church family that is very much alive. And as we evolve, my role keeps changing—as do expectations around what I do. I can easily be pulled in 100 directions.

So I’ve benefited from the insight to let go of the me others want me to be, and be more confident in the me I am. To focus on the strengths I have; the gifts God gave to me; the direction he’s telling me to go.

I think that’s good advice for all of us.

4. If The Lord Never Changes Your Mind Maybe He’s Not Your Lord
If you’re not a person of faith, this might seem strange. But read on:

There’s a risk that we fashion a faith where God serves us (and not the other way around). I think it can be easy (for me, for you) to simply use or call upon God to back our cause or point of view.

I’m skeptical when someone “believes in God,” but never seems to be changed by that God. (Here the word “Master” for God might help.) If someone is Master Almighty over us, that doesn’t really seem to summon a life of indifference, non-worship, or non-response.

Pastor Rodney Anderson said it like this: “There’s a monumental difference in believing in God and believing God.”

If we are to love God with our entire heart, soul, mind and strength (Mark 12:30), and be continually renewing our minds (Romans 12:2), we are in a perpetually evolving, growing relationship. And as a minister, I’m continually reminded of this fact.

There were a few times this year when I thought, ‘I wonder if I’ve misunderstood what that biblical story means there,’ or ‘I think I need to be more humble in that situation,’ or ‘Perhaps God wants me to approach that differently.’

If I’m not open to the change he is working in me, maybe I’m faking it. So I’d better be open!

5. To Be Your Best, Rest
Resting is hard—for me, anyway. (This last point may be more directed to a certain breed among us.)

There are always things to do: Groceries to get, kids to raise, projects to complete, messages to respond to.

But I’ve been thinking: Our willingness to rest may be the biggest indicator as to whether we really believe God is God. If we’re always on the go and over-functioning, aren’t we simply saying that we don’t trust that God is the one actually running the show?

I’m always amazed at how much more attentive, patient, clear-minded, compassionate, and alert I am when I’m well rested. If only God had worked some kind of 1-in-7-rest-principle into the world it would be so much easier. Oh, wait a second, he did!

So…

There are a few other chunks of wisdom I came up with. For me they are huge; but they’re so personal to my situation that it wouldn’t do you any good to hear them! Haha.

But the 5 I’ve listed above are chunks I think we can all benefit from.

New Year’s Resolutions?
Lastly, people are asking me if I have any New Year’s Resolutions.

Last year it was to “do less, better.” I wanted to be my best at the few things I should be focusing on (as opposed to being mediocre at a bunch of things I shouldn’t be focused on). I think I had some good success, but there’s always room for improvement. I think that will continue to be a personal goal for 2015.

And while I do it, I’ll keep these 5 golden chunks of wisdom I sifted from 2014 close to my heart:

The days are long but the years are short
Each day is a new life—so live it like it is
Let go of who you aren’t
If the Lord never changes your mind maybe he’s not your Lord
To be your best, rest

May your 2015 be full of faith, hope and love, and the you you were meant to be.

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9 Comments »

  1. Great as always but one part really hit home tonight. “But I’ve been thinking: Our willingness to rest may be the biggest indicator as to whether we really believe God is God.”

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    • Hi KJ, thanks for the note—and yes, those words dwell deeply within me too. Every time I start to shut out rest in my life I come back to them again! I hope you have a great New Year’s, and a 2015 filled with grace and… rest.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Your wisdom always astounds me Matthew. I am so grateful God works through you to help me understand my growth in my worship. Keep 2015 a classroom for all your students.

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  3. I was puzzling over what “Let go of who aren’t,” trying to figure out what it might mean. People who aren’t what — friends? Honest? Genuine? I came up with lots of possibilities. But after a few minutes and a re-read, I realized I’d missed one of the words. Oops.

    I think this is one of the hardest things to do, as many of us are conditioned to try to be what others — family, friends,school, society — seem to want us to be. A lot of time is spent (wasted) on this, and it causes a lot of pain.

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