At times throughout my life, I was confused – very confused. Maybe you weren’t. I do know people who appear to have had it together all of their lives. Not me.
When I was in college, I stayed up all night writing page after page of areas of life where I was confused. I still have these writings – I think – somewhere.
Yet, I have learned so much about life. I am still learning. However, I can point to growth in things I have learned. I wish I had known these five much earlier.
1. I wish I had known the value of being gracious. Gracious people have a way of extending grace in their different relationships. People who are not gracious can be curt, rude, self-centered, and even self-absorbed. The gracious person has an extended hand – always willing to be helpful. The ungracious person looks out only for themselves. “Don’t ask me for help. That’s not my problem.”
2. I wish I had learned the value of paying attention to others. We learn so much by simply paying attention. Pay attention to another’s words, manner, posture, and body language. When we genuinely pay attention, others will often feel listened to and valued.
3. I wish I had known the value of service. When you serve a church, there will be people who will not appreciate you and even take you for granted. Some will receive ministry and the service of others and then announce they are moving to another congregation. Some will accuse you of having the wrong motives or even seeking your own agenda. Of course there are many who will appreciate and affirm you. However, ministry requires a deeper purpose than simply whether or not others will affirm or appreciate you. Ministry requires that you serve God.
4. I wish I had learned the value of living within my own limits. I am not another person. I am me. I am able to do some things that others cannot. Others can do things that I cannot. I am me.
Far too often, instead of accepting and cherishing the one whom God created, we pick ourselves apart. Consequently, we focus on what is wrong with ourselves. My nose is too big. I weigh too much. My ears look like car doors that are open. As a result, we shame ourselves and resent being who we are.
5. I wish I had learned the value of resting in the presence of God. Through silence and solitude, we can enter the presence of God and live with the awareness that we are not alone. Far too often, I have sought to deal with life through my own willfulness and determination in the midst of a thousand distractions and voices. I have learned – much later in life than I wish – that I desperately need silence and solitude if I am going to be attentive to the one voice I most need to hear.