Before you get all judgey with your self-righteous indignation, you need to know that I am a millennial. Just barely, but I am one. I’m kind of in between being a millennial and a Generation-Xer. So, when you hear these words you need to hear that I am not just the speaker, but I’m also the audience.
Now that I’ve said that, hear me on this fellow millennials: We have got to grow up and we’ve got to do it fast. I interact with us on a daily basis, and what I see in who we have are, whether we were raised that way or we’ve become that way, is terrifying. We’re on the verge of destroying the world and we don’t even know it. We’ve got to grow up and we’ve got to act fast.
Now that I’ve pained such a happy picture for you, let me explain.
There are two things we are doing that go hand in hand, and when they are played out, they aren’t sustainable. What are those two things? Entitlement & Abdication. Let me define my terms.
By entitlement, I’m talking about the mentality that we are entitled to anything that we want. We think we have a right to everything our heart desires. Entitlement is “the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.”
By Abdication I mean this: failure to fulfill a responsibility or duty. This is the concept that the locus of our responsibility is outside of us. Everyone around us is responsible for everything in our lives.
I’m sure you see it, but just in case you don’t, here is how the two play hand in hand. We believe that we are inherently deserving of privileges and special treatment and that it is someone else’ responsibility to give it to me. It’s someone else’s responsibility to take care of me and ensure that I get the special treatment that I deserve.
If you’re a millennial, what you’re probably thinking now is: here’s another conservative, old school pastor who thinks we should be moving culture back to what it was like in the 1950’s. You can think that, but the fact that you’re reading this article on a device through technology that wasn’t available more than a decade ago should give credence to the fact that I don’t want to go back to the 50’s.
My aim in writing this is to do my part, to take responsibility you might say, to help up see our faults and to find a path we can walk that is sustainable.
Maybe we just need to stop and think about it logically for a moment. If I am inherently deserving of special privileges and treatment and it’s someone else’s responsibility to provide that for me, what happens when all the people who are currently providing these things die? I know it’s morbid, but it’s a fact of life. Our parents will eventually die. I know this with certainty. What’s going to happen when the people who provide for our special treatment are gone? Who is going to provide for you?
I’m guessing you’re probably thinking that it will be the government’s responsibility. Let’s just say that the American government runs at the highest level of efficiency and is able to use every penny of every dollar with extreme financial prowess. That’s hard to say and imagine, I understand, but let’s say it anyway. What is the primary source of funds for our government? Taxes. Right? Well, if all the people who are doing the work right now die off, who is going to be left to pay taxes? If all the people who are responsible to provide for my special treatment disappear, who is going to be able to pay the government the taxes they will need to provide for my lifestyle?
This is where logic should kick in. If it’s the government’s job to provide for my special treatment, and no one works which means the government doesn’t have any money, how is the government going to be able to provide the treatment I deserve? That’s where loans come in, right?
Okay, so we have currently borrowed 17 trillion dollars. That’s $17, 000,000,000,000.00. One trillion is one million times one billion. To give you some perspective, it’s roughly (on average because the distance is always changing) 1,267,200,000 feet between the earth and the moon. Feet, not miles. A dollar bill is about 6″ long. If you were to stretch dollar bills from end to end, you would have to go back and forth between the moon 6,707+ times to get to 17 trillion. You could literally pave a highway between earth and the moon with dollar bills.
And that’s just what we’ve currently borrowed. If people stop working and our government has to borrow more money than they do now, we’ll be able to drive our cars to Proxima Centauri. It’ll be like the autobahn, except it would take us 85 years to get there if we were going as fast as the Orion-type craft.
What will eventually happen is we’ll go bankrupt. There is only about 60 trillion dollars in the world. And our country has blown through a third of that money. Once we go bankrupt, we will no longer be America, we’ll be the possession of some other country. And, there are no other countries with an economy big enough to support our lifestyle. Which means we’ll lose our entire way of life.
This is the wake up call I’m talking about. If we don’t stop our entitlement and abdication, we will literally destroy the world. I’m not talking politics. I’m not talking conservative versus liberal. I’m not talking left versus right. I’m not talking Republican versus democrat. I’m talking common sense and logic. If we don’t stop this crazy notion that the world exists to give me special treatment and it’s everyone else’s responsibility but mine to do that, we’re finished.
So, we need to grow up. We need to own our faults and start working proactively to correct them. We need to use our brains and think about the truth of the matter, not what we want the truth to be. Because no matter how much I want to be a giraffe, I never will be. No matter how much I want to be Randy Jackson, it just ain’t gonna happen dawg.
Now, what about you? Are you just sitting there, ticked off and spraying your computer screen with chewed up Cheetos or are you going to get busy fixing what we’ve broken? It doesn’t do any good to blame anyone for it. There are a thousand places to put the blame, but that’s not going to fix our problem. We are going to fix our problem. In fact, we are the only ones who can fix our problem. It’s our responsibility. It falls on our shoulders. The only way we can get the special treatment we think we deserve is if we get out there and earn it for ourselves.
I can tell you this, those of us who do will be the ones everyone else looks to get us out of the mess we are heading toward. So, let’s prepare now, and let’s be the ones who decided to fix what we broke.
I haven’t wanted to say anything about this story. As a general rule, I don’t talk about issues such as these because I find that they do more to divide people than they unite us. And considering the plethora of opportunities that exist for such divisions, I haven’t said anything about a lot of them. But, when I saw the headline of this article scrolling through my Facebook feed this morning, I knew I had something I needed to say. Then when I watched Brittany Maynard’s latest video, I felt it was a necessity to speak up.
Let me preface all of my comments with this, I can’t imagine the horrible pain and suffering Brittany is going through. I would never pretend to understand how she feels. And even though my position as a pastor has afforded me the opportunity to walk with some through difficult circumstances, I have never walked through what she is walking through on a personal level. When she speaks of the suffering she experiences, the seizures, the headaches, the lack of recognition and I’m sure a plethora of other pains and turmoil she has had to endure, I can’t even begin to imagine how strong the desire for it all to end must be. And God help me and my family if we ever have to endure something this painful and tragic.
I also want to make it clear, I am not trying to stir up any controversy. I’m not trying to take advantage of a popular topic to gain popularity. I am trying to speak, what I see in the Bible as well as in the natural order of things, to be truth.
But, this morning I saw the headline: “Ore. woman postpones planned suicide, still feels well” something went off in my head. And it is to that I must speak up.
In Brittany’s most recent video, she says: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lHXH0Zb2QI)
“If all my dreams came true, I would somehow survive this.” – Brittany Maynard.
In the article on KGW.com, there is this quote: (http://www.kgw.com/story/news/local/2014/10/30/brittany-maynard-postpones-oregon-assisted-suicide/18167099/)
“I still feel good enough and I still have enough joy and I still laugh and smile with my family and friends enough that it doesn’t seem like the right time right now,” she said in a video on her website The Brittany Maynard fund.” “But it will come, because I feel myself getting sicker. It’s happening each week.”
What I fear about not speaking up is yet another area of life in the Northwest and our entire western culture, that becomes clouded by the exercising of broken people making broken rules to fix a broken world. There are so many issues that we need to address, but they have become taboo for Christians and especially pastors to talk about.
Where does it end? I know there are laws to deal with this issue, but once we take steps in this direction, it could easily become a much bigger issue than being terminally ill with a disease such as cancer. There are those who struggle with mental illness who would describe their lives with as much pain and sorry, if not more than what Brittany has endured. How can we say that Brittany’s physical pain is any more justifiable than the emotional and mental pain some people endure? There are hundreds of other qualifications that can be added to this issue that cloud the water to an inextricable level.
But, it’s not even just that. I believe that Brittany’s life is a gift. I believe that having been given the opportunity to exist, she has received a great gift from our creator. I don’t know Brittany, to know how she feels about the gift she’s been given or to know where she is on her spiritual journey. I would like to know. And, honestly, part of my hope in writing this is to get that opportunity. I am a Pastor at SixEight Church in Vancouver, WA. I would love the opportunity to discuss this with her. I maybe help her understand the gift she has. I doubt I will get that opportunity, and if I do, it seems that the ball is already rolling pretty fast down hill, but you never know.
And that’s exactly the point. You never know what’s going to happen. It is not for us to know, only for God. And only God sits outside of our lives and situations. Only God has the vantage point with which to judge when a life should begin and when a life should end. That is how He designed it. That is how he created this world to function.
Even though you are having to endure the greatest pain you have ever known, God can use that pain and adversity to shape you and those around you. Just as Brittany may not be healed of this disease and her pain may never cease, whatever pain you are dealing with may last the rest of your life. But what if God has a plan to use that pain to sharpen you into a tool He can use to accomplish great things for His Kingdom?
When you go through suffering, when you endure pain, you gain credibility – especially if you handle it well. Some of the people I admire the most are those who have suffered greatly but still honor God with their lives and thank Him for His blessings. I know someone right now who is suffering that way, and the way She is handling this adversity is speaking volumes to me and our community.
But, when you decide to end it all, you rob yourself and those around you of that opportunity. You may feel right now that there is nothing worth living for. But, can I, perhaps a total stranger, implore you to look a little harder. You may be all alone right now, but that doesn’t mean you will always be alone. And maybe God wants to use this suffering to lead you across someone else’s path. And maybe it’s that crossing of paths that will lead to your ability to endure for the long haul. And maybe you crossing their path is what gives them their reason to live.
There is so much about what’s going on in our lives that we don’t understand. There is so much we will never see from where we sit, because we are in the middle of the situation. But, just as an offensive coordinator has the ability to adjust the plays he calls because he’s sitting up in a booth where he can easily see the changes the defense is making – God sits much higher than us and has the ability to see how what we are doing right now is going to affect the lives os those around us.
Can you imagine what would happen if Brittany changed her mind? There are millions of people who know her story. But can you imagine what would happen if she decided to endure because her life is a gift? There would be millions of people who would see and want to know why. And that would give her an amazing chance to tell those people about God and why, even though it will be the hardest thing she and her family have to go through, to tell the world about how God has a purpose for every day of her life and she wants to honor Him with that.
Psalm 90:14-16 says:
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
for as many years as we have seen trouble.
16 May your deeds be shown to your servants,
your splendor to their children.
May your deeds be shown to your servants. Not only does this tell us that God’s ways are higher than our ways and that we never fully understand what God is doing, but it is teaching us to make the most of every day God has given us.
Where do I see that? In Psalm 90:12:
12 Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
And what about Psalm 139:16:
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
Teach us to count the days. Teach us to make the most of every opportunity. There are so many opportunities ahead of you. No matter who you are or where you are, there are opportunities in front of you. All you have to do is start looking for them. All we have to do is to follow the example of Christ on the cross. Who endured the greatest pain and suffering so we could have the hope of eternal joy beyond our time of pain and suffering on this earth. Your life was worth so much that He gave up his own so you could walk in a redeemed and restored relationship with the creator of this universe.
To see those opportunities, we must learn to walk in humility. We do that by following in Christ’s example: (Phil 2:3-8)
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very natureGod,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
What if our purpose is not solely wrapped up in what we can get for ourselves out of this life, but instead is intricately tied to all the people around us. What if, instead of making our whole existence about ourselves, we valued those around us more than us? What if we had the same mindset as Jesus who made himself nothing, endured great pain and humiliation all for us?
Whatever turmoil you find yourself in, not matter how deeply you wish to end your life on this planet, can I encourage you to make the most of every day you’ve been given? Can I implore you to stick it out? That the life you live is a gift from the God of this universe, and to cut that life short is to cut short the purpose for which you’ve been created. You are worth so much. You have so much value to our God. He created you in His image, which means you have intrinsic dignity, worth and value.
You are amazing and you have been amazingly made. Your value is not determined by how cool you are, how many friends you have, or (even as I have argued in this post) because of the difference you can make in the lives of those around you. Are those important? Except for being cool, yes. Being cool isn’t important, that’s just dumb to worry yourself about that. Regardless of those things, you have worth and value because you are made in the image of an amazing God. All the other stuff aside, you are amazing because of whose image you are made in. And that’s reason enough to endure.
The fact that my phone just went crazy announcing an amber alert for my areas speaks to the truth of this matter. Life is important. Life has value. And when a life is in danger, we should fight like crazy to save it. Brittany’s life has value. The life of these missing children have value. The fact that murder is illegal around the globe speaks to this fact as well. Life is valuable. It’s a gift. When I think of your life, I think of it as being precious. When I think of my wife and the gift her life is to me and my family, it’s precious. When I think of my children, I think of them as being precious gifts to me and this planet. Life is a gift.
Death is a certainty for all. So it’s what we do with our lives that matters. Our lives should be about life, not death.
To quote the greatest movie of all time: “You see, George, you’ve really had a wonderful life. Don’t you see what a mistake it would be to throw it away?”
(Intro: This is a post I wrote in Sept of 2012, when I was fairly upset about some stuff, so I wrote this article and never published it. I just reread it and wanted to share it with you.)
Sometimes when it feels like we’ve failed at something, I think the basis of what we’re feeling is based on someone else’s imposed definition of who they think you should be – and you’re not living up to it.
You know what I’m talking about. People see a pastor at another church while they’re visiting on a weekend, and they instantly start comparing you (their pastor) to them. They notice all the little things they do that you don’t do. They notice their style and their voice. They notice all the things that make them who they are, and compare them to you.
What they don’t realize is that, they are experiencing them in a vacuum. For one, it’s not a fair, side by side comparison. It’s not like they’re in a Best Buy, looking at the TV’s where they can see the same movie on a hundred TV’s. Can you imagine that store? A hundred different worship leaders singing the same song or a hundred different pastors preaching the same sermon so you can pick the one you like best?
When they take the TV home, they begin to notice the flaws.
You’ve been there. You buy the TV, get home and realize it doesn’t have enough connections, or doesn’t look as big as you thought it did, or it looks bigger. You buy a used car, and on the way home you hear a noise you didn’t hear. You go to a new church, and then the pastor says something you don’t think is funny, he’s kind of a nerd, the worship leader is a little pitchy or sings a song you don’t like every weekend. Then they start to remember all the things they liked about their old pastor, forget all the things they didn’t like and long for the days when they were at their previous church.
I know I’ve been there before. I’ve had, in my life and ministry on a regular basis, people who judge me and how I do ministry against how they think I should be doing ministry. They have an image of what they think I should be in their head, and when I don’t live up to it, I am failing.
I’ve had people judge me against a flawed perception of themselves. They believe they are great at my job (even though they may have no training or experience) and that I should be doing my job as good as they think they could do my job.
Maybe they can do my job better, but the bottom line is, we shouldn’t judge anyone based on what we think they should be. But, you know how you work at a job for 40+ hours a week? You do this thing for 40+ hours a week that I don’t claim to know all about. There are things about your job that I don’t understand. Things that can’t be understood unless you’re in it all the time. The reverse is also true, but it’s not real PC to say. But I will. Unless you are a Pastor and you make your living pastoring a church and work in the church 7 days a week, you just don’t have an understanding of what it really means to lead a church.
The other bottom line, you shouldn’t let people judge you based on who they think you should be.
I know you can’t control them, but you can control how much you let them in your head. Don’t let their judgement of you drive you to try to be someone you’re not.
You are awesome just how God created you. The other guy they are comparing you to is awesome how God created him. When you try to be like him, you are being an imitation of a creation, not being the creation God created. When you’re trying to be someone else, that’s idolatry. We are made in God’s image, and our only pursuit can be the image the designer put in us since before we were born.
One thing I’m not saying is that we shouldn’t try to improve ourselves. But only if that improvement is based on principle and truth, not comparison. If the improvement is to keep up with someone else, or because we are under pressure from people around us to be something we’re not, we shouldn’t do it.
As we shape who we are and the people we lead, we need to build into them the ability to think and appreciate people for who they are. Don’t let your people get caught up in the comparison game. Don’t let them talk negatively about your pastor, don’t let them talk negatively about your subordinates. Teach them to learn to appreciate the good things and find ways they can step in and fill in the perceived gaps.
One final note: with the highly connected world we live in, it’s very easy to see what every other church on the planet is doing. Whether it’s worship styles or songs, programs or ministries, videos, graphics, stage designs or sermons. We need to be careful to be sure that we aren’t comparing what we do to what the rest of the world is doing. God has a plan and design for your church body, just as he as a plan and design for you.
Just as God created you uniquely, he created your church body uniquely. If he wanted us to all be the same and act the same, he would have prescribed it for us. And in the areas we do have such prescriptions, I do think we should strive to live up that prescription. However, just as each of us are unique, he wants your church body to represent him uniquely.
So, no more cookie cutter pastors, no more cookie cutter churches.
Slowly, but surely, this series is going to get finished! I started the series in 2009! What the heck Lindner! Get it together, it’s 2014!
So, since the chances are astronomical that you’ve never even heard of this series, therefore you’ve never read the first three articles, you might want to go check them out. Part 1. Part 2. Part 3.
In Part 4 of the series, I want to talk about setting the ground rules for the team & the meetings.
There are probably a hundred rules you could make up for a team like this. Maybe you want everyone to wear skinny jeans and a scarf. So you make a rule that no baggy pants are allowed.
But that’s not really what I’m thinking of. I’m looking more at those rules that keep the team functioning in a healthy manner. These rules are blunt and straightforward by design. It is better to be clear at the beginning with expectations. It’s easier to hold people to something they are aware of. If they don’t know a rule exists, they’ll break it every time.
So, what are they?
1.) Everyone is committed.
If you’re on the team, you are an owner. You’re self-employed. You are not a road construction employee. We can’t have 5 guys watching one guy work. Everyone is committed. It needs to be made clear to those coming onto the team for the first time, that this is a Getting Stuff Done team. We don’t just talk, we do. For every meeting, we have a series we are executing, a series we are planning and a series we are brainstorming. We model the way by working the hardest. If you commit to this team, you’re committing to diligence.
2.) If you miss the meeting, it’s your responsibility to find out what you missed.
Because we are committed to the team, we don’t wait until the next meeting to get caught up on what we missed. We get in touch with the leader or someone else who was there to find out what happened. It’s not the leaders’ responsibility to call me, it’s my responsibility to call my leader. I realize that I may have been assigned some tasks based on the strengths my team knows about me, and if I wait to find out what they are until the next meeting I might miss something that needs to be done this week. It’s not someone else’s responsibility, it’s mine.
3.) Everyone Follows Through
We don’t drop the ball. Period. If we drop the ball, it’s not just a loss of a service element. It’s the loss of an experience for hundreds if not thousands of people. It’s not just me who loses out, it’s the whole body. Every minute of the worship service is multiplied by the number of people in attendance. If 100 people come to church, a 60 minute service accounts for 6,000 minutes. If I don’t follow through, my 3 minute responsibility costs the church 300 minutes of potentially life-changing experience.
4.) Not meetings after the meeting
We are committed to being united as a team. If there is a problem between members of the team, we don’t engage in gossip about them outside the meeting, we encourage them and possibly force them to work it out with the other person. We confront ideas in the meeting because we are trying to get the best idea to the church. So, we don’t have meetings after the meeting about how this person just doesn’t get it. Or how that person isn’t very creative. Every person on the team is there for a reason. We confront and keep short accounts, because we are too busy with the big idea to get bogged down with drama.
5.) A God-honoring experience is primary, personal feelings are secondary.
We don’t allow our personal feelings to be attached to an idea. My feelings aren’t important – Jesus is. We are here to create the most creative experience and expression of our collective bodies adoration of Jesus. We aren’t here to get credit. We aren’t here to prove that we are the most creative, crazy person in the church. We aren’t here to get our immature ego’s an extra stroke on the back. We are here to be a part of a team creating a God-honoring experience. My personal feelings cannot get in the way of that. That’s idolatry.
1.) Everyone is on time.
We start our meetings on time. To be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late. We don’t show up 15 minutes after the meeting starts, even if we are musicians. We respect the time of everyone on the team, and we understand that when we are late, we are disrespecting the time of those who cared enough about me to be there on time. That makes me an egotistical hypocrite who expect people to serve me, but I’m not willing to serve them in the same way.
2.) More from the thinkers less from the talkers.
Just because you can talk a lot doesn’t mean you have the best idea. Often times those who have the most words need to shut their pie hole so someone who thinks can process the ideas on there and come up with a better idea. We don’t need you to prove how smart you are, how creative you are, how in touch with culture you are or anything of the like. We get the hint by your beard. You’re cooler than us. We get it. Now, please be quiet so I can come up with an idea that will make you cry.
3.) Only the team leader gets to cut someone off.
We aren’t afraid to confront ideas that come to the table. But we also don’t get to be jerks. We are respectful of the people on the team. So we let them finish their idea before we jump in and change the subject. And just because the person takes a breath doesn’t mean they are finished. It is the responsibility of the leader to know the people on the team so they can silence the ones who talk too much and pull in the ones who talk too little.
4.) During brainstorming times, completion is not the goal – initiation of an idea is the goal.
We aren’t trying to finish an idea during brainstorming. We are trying to find the best idea. My idea might initiate a better idea in your head. And your idea might initiate an even better idea in someone else’s head. So, we don’t stop and try to complete my idea. We don’t try to begin to implement my idea because I want my idea to win. When we are brainstorming, we are flooding the board with ideas in the hope that our idea might implement a coalition of creativity that truly expressed the creativity of the collected body of Christ.
5.) During implementation times of the meeting, financially responsible execution is the goal. It’s time to shut off the new ideas and implement the best idea you have.
When you’re being creative, it’s hard to stop coming up with new ideas and get to work. This is a problem for creatives around the world. They never get started doing anything because as soon as they start, they have a newer and better idea. Creatives are awful for completing things.
Given the magnitude of the role of this team, (preparing experiences that prepare people), we don’t have the luxury of waiting until the absolute best idea comes along. Instead, we have the responsibility of implementing and executing the best idea we have. It’s not fair to those showing up on Sunday to drop the ball because we thought we had a better idea, and if we just had another week, we could make it happen.
Brainstorming Rules: If you need some good rules for brainstorming, make sure to check out the 10 commandments of brainstorming.
I grew up watching the Waltons. It was one of the shows that was in our daily diet. I think it was because of John Boy for the most part. The narrative he added to their lives and the morals they lived by from a different time were solid. Of course, you’re probably making fun of my for that admission, nevertheless, it’s was a good show.
I remember an episode of that show where Olivia was out with Elizabeth and Jim Bob (I think). One way or another, in the dense forrest of Virginia, they got lost. They encountered different trials, including one where Jim Bob had to scare away a bear by banging a couple of rocks together. As they navigated their way back to the main road, Olivia (the mom) said that moss grows on the north side of the tree, so that would help them know which way they were going. It was a point of reference. But there’s a problem with it.
Her point of reference isn’t global. That doesn’t work everywhere. For instance is the same true in the southern hemisphere? I know for a fact the same principle does not apply here in the Northwest where moss grows on all sides of the tree. So, what do we do then? Some may say you can use the sun. And while that’s true on a sunny day, we also have a lot of days where the sun isn’t visible. What do we do then? When you don’t know which way you’re going, even a map will do you no good.
The only real answer is to have an external point of reference. Like a compass. You need to have something that is outside of your current circumstance that points you in the direction you need to go. You need to have something outside of you that can lead you to safety. Your rescue is dependent on the external point of reference. You may not see the sun, but as long as you have that needle that is pointing to true north, you can navigate.
The problem we are facing in todays society is that we have removed the external point of reference. It’s not for a lack of tools and things that point to it. Those all exist and have not changed. But for some strange reason we have decided that we no longer need something outside ourselves to guide us. We believe that we are able and competent to lead from within the circumstance.
We don’t use true north anymore. Many don’t even believe that true north exists. Many believe each of us gets to decide what true north is for ourselves. And so, we are all out there in the same woods, using our own true norths to try to navigate this life.
“What’s the big deal with that?” you might be asking. One problem is that we are all sharing the same forrest. We are all on this planet sharing oxygen. Our paths cross. no one lives in true isolation. What happens when my north contradicts your north? What happens when your north gets in the way of my north? Who gets to decide which north is the right north? Who gets to win the battle of the norths?
In this scenario, one might think that everyone would just assume that everyone is right. But that’s not the case. And we can see that being played out all over media on a daily basis. It never happens that everyone is right. In fact, what most commonly happens is that everyone is wrong. What I mean by that, is we don’t hear people commending one another for being right, we hear people condemning one another for being wrong. How idiotic is it of us to claim that what’s right for me may not be right for you and yet, at the same time condemn you for not doing what I think is right?
So, when your north contradicts my north, then you must be punished. And whichever way the justice scales of public opinion are tilting that day is what will be the winning north. The scales may swing widely from contradiction to contradiction, and that doesn’t matter. All that matters is right now and how I feel in this moment.
It does not make any sense. The reason we are such a messed up people is that we have abandoned our True North. The only way for us to find that sense is to abandon the ridiculous notion that I get to decide what north is and turn back to the real source of north – God. For it is God and God alone that sits outside our circumstance, and only he knows which direction we should go.
If you are unfamiliar with Frank Peretti’s illustration called “The Chair” I strongly recommend you make yourself familiar with it. Unfortunately this is an old video and it looks old, but the point is great.
Lawrence D. Shinn
May 30, 1924 ~ August 29, 2014
How do you summarize a life? How do you put into words all of the various dimensions of a life that spanned 90 years? The life of Lawrence D. Shinn is one that spanned across some of the greatest time periods in American History. His life also spanned some of the greatest industrial and technological advances in Human history. And amid all that change there are a few words that stand out:
Determined. From the very beginning of his life he was faced with extraordinary circumstances that would cause most of us to hang up our hat and call it quits. He worked on farms, picked fruit, built houses and pole buildings; he raised turkeys, chickens and cattle and operated a sawmill. And of course, he worked on the farm and logged the great forests of the Pacific Northwest. Whatever was necessary to provide for his family, he was determined to provide.
Laughter. He loved to laugh. He loved to poke fun whenever given the opportunity. He wasn’t afraid of putting on a wig, some girly glasses and a couple clip on earrings to get a reaction out of you. He probably had inside jokes with all the family members and took advantage of the opportunity to individualize his approach to best suit his audience. And of course, nobody could touch his strawberry jam without an adequate dose of overinflated, righteous indignation.
Diligent. There aren’t many people on the planet who worked as hard as Lawrence did. Of course he would tell you that if you didn’t do it, it won’t get done. But as long as there was work to do, he did it.
Exploration. He loved to travel. He had a passion for the National Parks, especially the Grand Canyon, and the beauty that could be soaked in to the bone. He worked hard enough to be able to explore without feeling guilty, and he absorbed as much of God’s creation as one could aspire to see in one lifetime. This love of the sheer beauty and wonder of nature has been passed down through the generations. His passion for exploration led to him spending his retired years traveling with Maude. They bought a motor home and traveled all over the United States. They truly enjoyed this time together and shared many stories about their adventures.
Farm. Lawrence had an understanding of what it mean to be a steward of the land he had been blessed with. He also knew that you needed to produce things to make a living. Even when his mother grace experienced health issues related to the chickens they were raising that just meant he had to find something else to produce. So, whether it was trees, chickens, sheep, cattle, turkeys or children, his love for his farm has created another generation of children and grandchildren who have the same love.
Innovation. He wasn’t afraid to try something new to provide either. Whether that was buying the TD-9 to log on and off the farm, setting up a sawmill to sell railroad ties, flipping properties for a profit, being the first to work at the Broadmore plant in woodland, and eventually starting a construction business with his son, Larry which lasted for 26 years – he tried new things.
Tough. He went through a lot in his lifetime. As can be expected when you work hard on the farm, from time to time you get injured. But this didn’t keep him from getting back on the horse, the tractor, the roof or anything else. But he wasn’t just tough, he also wasn’t afraid to be tough. When his kids and grandkids needed to be told something, he wasn’t afraid to pull them aside and say it. He was always kind in his rebuke, and never judgemental, but he knew that being tough was what was needed and he was tough enough to be tough. And he didn’t complain – at least not much. Even in the end of his life.
Love. As much as he loved to travel, he loved his high school sweetheart incomparably more. He loved one woman until the day he died, and none of us were unaware of just how much he missed his bride. He adapted his life to meet her needs, especially as she struggled for a long time. And even then, he was motivated to care for her out of love. He showed us all how to love your spouse selflessly and unconditionally. He had and undying love for the love of his life.
Family. Lawrence had a love for his family. He had a desire for his young family to be vested in the interests of his predecessors. And he sought to raise a family that would pass on the tradition of selflessly caring for one another. If you asked him what he thought his legacy would be, I’m sure family would be at the top of the list.
We haven’t done justice to the life he lived with these few words, but they’re a start to an understanding of a life that has affected the lives of so many others. There simply aren’t words to express the influence and impact of his life, but I guess that’s kind of the point. We don’t do his life justice by mentioning a few words, we do his life justice by carrying on where he left off.
So perhaps the greatest praise we could sing of Lawrence D. Shinn will not be in the words we share on this day – though we must and we should tell the stories he would tell; but could it be that the greatest praise of his life will be in the kinds of lives we lead with the tools he gave us to lead them?
Click below to listen to the audio of the memorial service:
(Right Click and “Save Target As…” to download)