Talk about a hard question to answer…the others to this point have been ones that could be more at a distance – reflections upon more external issues, but with some measure of an internal. This one is more focused on me and the ways that I have been created, gifted, the experiences I have gained, and how I share these things. For me, I think the primary thing that I hope is that I am contributing to the whole. I want to live in such a way as there is purpose in what I am doing and meaning in what I do – whether that is as a follower of Jesus, as a husband, as a father, as a friend, as a pastor. One of the central passages of the Bible for me comes from Jeremiah 29:11 – “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”
For me, this passage says that as God has laid out these plans, I need to seek to live in similar ways to bring about the welfare of others and to bring about healing and wholeness and not harm and ultimately to focus on the hope that there is beyond this life. I think some of the things I am able to bring to that contribution is an ability to listen well (at least most of the time), an ability to see beyond the present, an openness to new ideas, a compassionate spirit, and a calming presence. There are definitely other things, but those are the big ones that I have experienced in myself and have been affirmed by others along the journey.
As I thought about this, I also thought of a very significant hour of TV Amy and I watched several years ago. There was a TV show, Ed (ironically enough) that we watched in the first few years of our marriage and one of the episodes the first season was entitled, “Live Deliberately” and it contrasted the life of trying to do everything versus a focus on simplicity and core ideals. The episode was centered upon Thoreau’s quote from Walden:
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion
Here’s the ending reflection of the episode upon that quote and Ed’s journey up the local mountain at the end…
To me, there is a profound call for us in this call to live deliberately and to live fully. I guess, moving beyond just the lists and talents, etc, I hope that my contribution is helping people to live their lives in the fullest sense, experiencing and sharing the fullness of God, and the fullness of relationships with one another.