Where I find my passions

Taking time to reflect on what is vital in life is important. We need to set aside time regularly to reflect on what drives us internally.

What brings passion to my life? What makes me want to get up and get at things in life every day?

Recently reflecting on what drives me right now, and rejoicing so deeply over what is going on in our church and ministry, I jotted down a couple of things that get me up every day.

  1. My family. Our boys are grown and gone. Two are married. We have one grandson. (Have I told you about him?) 🙂  And when I reflect on my family, on where my wife and I are in life, I am filled with joy. I watch young men do life and see what God is doing in them. I have wonderful conversations with my wife and enjoy much more time with her… and I am driven every day to pray for them. I am filled with joy every day seeing what is happening in their lives.
  2. My church. Our church has turned a major corner. We are in a new day that is magnificent. What is ahead is exciting and fun. It’s hard work. WOW! Is it hard work! But joy-filled work that will yield harvest for the Kingdom. We will see more churches planted. We will see the Spirit touch our city. I want my story to be “written” showing my deep love for the church where I get to pastor.
  3. My city. I love the Twin Cities. Winters drive me nuts (except for this last one), but it’s not all about the weather. It’s about the people. Where our church is… well, I really love that part of the city. I watch people do incredible things in that city. They work hard. They love people. They make the schools better. They make the city better.

I can wake up every day with a driving passion to help my family, my church, and my city thrive. The Lord has gifted me with these precious passions. Where I feel his presence and empowerment most is when I am doing something in those three areas. This is where I want my “story” to be known. This is where my passions lie.

The honoring of family

Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you. (Ex. 20:12)

When we handle this relationship right, the rest of life has a better opportunity of flowing a bit better. When we learn, as children, to honor authority, and allow God to deal with that authority, we have an opportunity for healthier living. Parents don’t get it “right” all the time. (I came close…) If we can learn to deal with “wrong” decisions by parents, we learn how to walk under authority. We then learn how to walk in authority ourselves when the time comes.

The key to good societal living begins in the home. If we did not have good examples in the home growing up, we have the opportunity to create BETTER examples in our own household.

When the home is strong, the rest of society has an opportunity to be strong as well. There is a reflection on the family that can create wonderful opportunities in the world around us.

I have a picture on my desk of my dad and I walking along the riverfront in Minneapolis. I love that picture. When I glance at that picture I am reminded of the relationship I have with my dad and am grateful for the years I have with him. Even though I am now half a century into life, I still have a sense of wanting to honor my dad.

When we recently went to Alabama to have our family together for Christmas, there was an opportunity to hear what our oldest son had done. We were sitting in a local restaurant having breakfast and our oldest son ran into the director of Big Brothers/Big Sisters in Mobile. He introduced us to her and then she proceeded to brag on the project our son had done for her organization when he was in college.

Our son is 25. He is now a dad. He has a very successful business. He doesn’t “need” to know how proud that made me, but as a family, he reflected core values that showed off our family and what we believe in.

Family is core. Family is key. If we have done well as parents, we raise kids that bring value to the world around them. They build up. They don’t suck value out of the world around them… they add value to the world around them.

As I reflect on all three of our adult sons and watch them make their way in the world, there is absolutely a sense of pride. They do well. They reflect well on the values we tried to establish. (They turned out so well even in our big mistakes as parents!) The world IS a better place because we worked on family as best we could.

So, when I look at that picture of my dad and I walking, I think of how I work to carry on what he instilled in me. (My dad grew up without a dad, by the way. His father was killed before my dad was born. You can create something new from what you didn’t have yourself.) My dad created value and worth in our home. Value I want to add to our world. Value I wanted to pass along to our boys so THEY can now add value to their world.

We cannot, as believers, lose the core value of family. It makes society better.

As Dad

As a dad, I watch all these stages of life in our kids. Our youngest just turned 21 and we are all together as a family celbrating Christmas and the coming of our first grandchild. My wife and I are with our three sons, two daughters-in-law, and one awesome grandson. (Have I mentioned I have a grandson yet?)

As a dad I have all these thoughts flow through my mind as I look at each one. I will sit in a corner of the living room at my oldest son’s home holding my new grandson and listen to the conversation going around the table a few feet away. A flood of memories come through as I remember holding each one as an infant. Remembering ball games and plays… times at church… vacations together… the highs and the lows.

As a dad I have a flood of thoughts remembering how badly I did things as a dad. So many times when my temper was too much or my focus was in the wrong direction… And how God graciously brought me back and the goodness of God overcame the faults in my life and there is joy around that table that evening as I sit holding my grandson. God’s grace overcame my bad parenting flaws to produce three amazing sons who love Jesus, two daughters-in-law who are the best to me, who also love Jesus, along with a godly wife carrying us all… and I am so thankful.

As a dad I have all these thoughts flood through me in what seems to be seconds… and then, when I finally the get the chance to actually say something to each of them, it comes out in about three words or less!

“I love you.”

“I’m proud of you.”

“Good job.”

Words that formulated in my mind… words I might be able to craft on a page… good grief! I can formulate a SERMON!… but when I get the chance to say something directly to my kids… I choke up. I am overwhelmed. Tears come easily. And all I can choke out is, “I love you.”

As a dad, I live my life praying they all know how much I deeply love them, how proud I am of them, and how thankful I am to God for the beautiful results that came in spite of a very flawed man trying to lead them.

A few years back I mentioned to a friend that with my two youngest boys getting ready to graduate high school I would probably spend the next five years just crying all the time because I was so proud. My friend said, “Only five years? Try the rest of your life.” She was right.

As a dad, I sit back and reflect on the goodness of God in the lives of these “kids”, tears come readily, and all I can breathe out is, “Thank you, Jesus.”

Great is his faithfulness. Even if I can’t say more than three words at a time.

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