Leaving a Legacy

Regardless of the accolades we may receive in this life from our peers, the greatest honor we can receive is affirmation from our family on how we lived what we preached, that we were not hypocrites, that we walked the walk, and talked the talk.

This is beautifully illustrated in the following post by Tony Reinke on “Keeping Home Priorities in View.”

Bible scholar Don Carson cautions us about parental hypocrisy by recalling the enduring impact of his parents’ prayerful example:

My father was a church planter in Québec, in the difficult years when there was strong opposition, some of it brutal. Baptist ministers alone spent a total of eight years in jail between 1950 and 1952. Dad’s congregations were not large; they were usually at the lower end of the two-digit range.

On Sunday mornings after the eleven o’clock service, Dad would often play the piano and call his three children to join him in singing, while Mum completed the preparations for dinner. But one Sunday morning in the late fifties, I recall, Dad was not at the piano, and was not to be found.

I finally tracked him down. The door of his study was ajar. I pushed it open, and there he was, kneeling in front of his big chair, praying and quietly weeping. This time I could hear what he was saying. He was interceding with God on behalf of the handful of people to whom he had preached, and in particular for the conversion of a few who regularly attended but who had never trusted Christ Jesus.

In the ranks of ecclesiastical hierarchies, my father is not a great man. He has never served a large church, never written a book, never discharged the duties of high denominational office. Doubtless his praying, too, embraces idioms and stylistic idiosyncrasies that should not be copied.

But with great gratitude to God, I testify that my parents were not hypocrites. That is the worst possible heritage to leave with children: high spiritual pretensions and low performance. My parents were the opposite: few pretensions, and disciplined performance.

What they prayed for were the important things, the things that congregate around the prayers of Scripture. And sometimes when I look at my own children, I wonder if, should the Lord give us another thirty years, they will remember their father as a man of prayer, or think of him as someone distant who was away from home rather a lot and who wrote a number of obscure books.

That quiet reflection often helps me to order my days.

Source: Don Carson, A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayer (Baker, 1992), page 26.

Sometimes You Just Need a Crutch

Recovering from a broken leg is never easy. The first few days after surgery to screw my leg back together proved challenging in trying to deal with the pain. Because of a simple mistake I had to endure horrible pain after my nerve block wore off (See yesterday’s post, “Never Blocks Don’t Last Forever!”). By the end of the second day my pain was back under control and I was ready to begin physical therapy and get back to a normal life.

Within a few days I began to realize that dealing with the pain may have Continue reading

I’m No Victim

A few weeks ago my  blog post was entitled, “Unconditional Love.” It was about Robertson McQuilkin caring for his dear wife Muriel who was stricken with Alzheimer’s. It is a beautiful story of unconditional love. A love that is not dependant on what you receive but on what you can give.

For Valentine’s Day I wanted to share another short story by Dr. McQuilkin about a very special Valentine’s Day he and Muriel shared. I hope this story reminds you of your love for that special someone God has placed in your life. I hope it moves you to make Valentine’s Day extra special this year. I hope it reminds you to cherish every healthy minute you have together. And I hope it reminds you of God’s unconditional love for you.

“I’m No Victim” by Robertson McQuilkin:

Valentine’s Day was always special at our house because that was the day in 1948 Muriel accepted my marriage proposal. On the eve of Valentine’s Day in 1995 I read a statement by some specialist that Alzheimer’s is the most cruel disease of all, but that the victim is actually the caregiver. I wondered why I never felt like a victim. That night I entered in my journal: “The reason I don’t feel like a victim is—I’m not!” When others urged me to call it quits, I responded, “Do you realize how lonely I would be without her?”

After I bathed Muriel on her bed that Valentine’s eve and kissed her good night (she still enjoys two things: good food and kissing!), I whispered a prayer over her: “Dear Jesus, you love sweet Muriel more than I, so please keep my beloved through the night; may she hear the angel choirs.”

The next morning I was peddling on my Exercycle at the foot of her bed and reminiscing about some of our happy lovers’ days long gone while Muriel slowly emerged from sleep. Finally, she popped awake and, as she often does, smiled at me. Then, for the first time in months she spoke, calling out to me in a voice clear as a crystal chime, “Love … love … love.” I jumped from my cycle and ran to embrace her. “Honey, you really do love me, don’t you?” Holding me with her eyes and patting my back, she responded with the only words she could find to say yes: “I’m nice,” she said.

Those may prove to be the last words she ever spoke.

Love is something we give away, and you will never know how much your spouse needs to hear you say those three little words, “I LOVE YOU!”

You can find the complete article on Christianity Today’s website.

10 Ways to Lead Under Pressure

For years I have enjoyed reading books written by Thom Rainer, President of LifeWay Christian Resources. He has been an encouragement to me as a pastor, leader, Christian, husband, and father. In his article, “10 Ways to Lead Under Pressure,” he challenges us to stay focused on what is important. I hope you enjoy Dr. Rainer’s article from Churchleaders.com.

Dr. Rainer writes:

Leadership can be difficult.

Okay, I’ve just stated the obvious. Anyone who has led a group or organization knows that tough times and tough decisions are inevitable. The issue is not whether leaders will find themselves under pressure; the issue is how leaders will handle pressure. Allow me to offer ten suggestions.

1. Avoid spiritual slippage.

Many effective leaders are incredibly focused on their work, so much so that they neglect their spiritual disciplines. Leaders under pressure must depend more on prayer, they must spend more time in the Word, and they must realize their wisdom and their strength come from God.

2. Avoid family slippage.

Busy leaders sometimes neglect their families. Such leaders under pressure often disregard the most important people in their lives. Great leaders must first be the right kind of leader in their homes.

3. Avoid physical slippage.

I recently had my annual physical, and my physician once again reminded me that I needed to remain diligent in my exercising and eating habits. He noted there is no way I can sustain the energy necessary to cope with the pressures of my job unless I am taking care of my body.

4. Love those you lead.

Sometimes, the pressure in leadership is great because we don’t first love those we lead. Indeed, we aren’t really leaders at all unless we demonstrate Christ’s love to those who are under our leadership.

5. Be transparent.

It takes so much more unnecessary energy to be someone we’re not. Transparency means we are authentic and lead with integrity.

6. Admit and deal with mistakes quickly.

As I write this article, I am dealing with a tough issue where I made a leadership mistake. I have admitted my mistake and now feel the freedom to move forward. If we postpone tough decisions or if we do not own up to our mistakes, the pressure will only get worse.

7. Be accountable.

Every leader needs accountability to someone or to some group. Those persons should always be checking our actions and our motives. And when we face either internal or external pressures, these persons are among the first who can help us.

8. Use fun and levity as a balance.

Many leaders take themselves too seriously. We need to lighten up and laugh more. A truly joyous person can withstand almost any pressure.

9. Have a longer-term perspective.

The crisis of the moment often makes us feel as if our world is about to end. But leaders who understand that most issues will take care of themselves in time are better equipped to deal with the seemingly heavy burdens of the present.

10. Have an outside interest as an alternative focus.

I have three major outside interests: my grandchildren, reading, and Alabama football. When I am playing with one of my grandchildren, for example, I feel as if all the pressures I was feeling are really not that bad after all. Those grandchildren give me a healthy perspective.

Leadership is indeed difficult. And good leaders will always feel pressures and have problems they must address. But the most effective leaders will deal in healthy ways with those pressures and, as a result, be healthier leaders themselves.

Books by Thom Rainer

33 Great Date Ideas

With only a few days left before Valentine’s Day, I thought you might like a few of the date ideas from this article.

33 Great Date Ideas” by LifeWay Staff:

Dinner and a movie again? Boring! This Valentine’s Day (or anytime), get out of your dating rut with your spouse or significant other. Be creative, playful, simple, or romantic. It doesn’t matter as long as you’re talking, laughing, and celebrating life – together. And you don’t have to spend a lot of cash.

If you’re stuck for great date ideas, here are thirty-three fun ideas to get you out of the rut:

  1. Take a hike. Enjoy the beauty of God’s creation together (you can conclude with back and foot rubs).
  2. Create your own progressive dinner. Go to four different restaurants for appetizer, salad, entrée, and dessert.
  3. Recreate your first date (or another special memory you share).
  4. Walk hand in hand along any kind of water – river, lake, ocean. Throw in a sunset for the perfect romantic moment.
  5. Visit a pet store and ask to hold the puppies and kittens. The experience will be warm and fuzzy, and the prices will probably discourage a purchase (unlike a trip to the pound).
  6. Eat dinner someplace new. Experiment with restaurants that serve ethnic food you’ve never tried.
  7. Go for a bike ride together.
  8. Put together a jigsaw puzzle or play a board game together.
  9. Take in a museum. Make your day of discovery relaxed and more about being together than prepping for an imaginary pop quiz.
  10. Use your imagination. Create a date for $10 or less. Try to spend that exact amount doing as many things as possible.
  11. Be a kid again – go to a playground and swing, hop on the merry-go-round, fly a kite together, feed the ducks at the lake, and go out for an ice cream cone.
  12. Rent or download your favorite romantic movie. Pop some popcorn and don’t forget to snuggle together.
  13. Go camping. If it’s too hot, create an indoor camp-out.
  14. Dream a little. Share your hopes and dreams for the future.
  15. Cook a meal together and eat it by candlelight.
  16. Go to a flea market or yard sale together, and buy each other a gift for under $5.
  17. Plan ahead. Go to a restaurant early, and ask the waiter to bring a rose to your spouse each time he visits the table when you dine there that evening.
  18. Visit a rock climbing gym. Belaying, or working the safety rope, for each other will build trust and partnership.
  19. Be spontaneous. Make no plans and just go with the flow.
  20. Road trip! Get in the car and see where the road leads you.
  21. Go canoeing or kayaking (or even paddle boating, if you prefer less speed).
  22. Get dressed up, eat at home, then go to a nice restaurant for dessert and coffee.
  23. Lie on a blanket and watch the clouds during the day or watch the stars and hold hands at night (or do both).
  24. Go on a picnic – inside, on the roof, in a park, or at a beach or lake.
  25. Grab a latte at a coffee shop and slow down and talk about life.
  26. Go to a play or a concert.
  27. Paint your own pottery. (Many towns have studios that provide the pre-formed pottery and paint, and they fire it for you.)
  28. Play in the rain together.
  29. Take some sort of lessons together. From painting lessons to horseback riding lessons, learn something together.
  30. Serve together at a local soup kitchen.
  31. Look through photo albums together (from yourselves as babies). Take turns telling stories and sharing favorite memories together.
  32. Rent a convertible and go to a drive-in movie.
  33. Be a tourist in your own town and visit those places you may never have visited.