Years ago, when I was just an eager college student still looking forward to entering the ministry, I was pulled aside one night after church by a friend. He was an older guy who had, himself, been in ministry for many years. He had also spoken a lot of wisdom into my life at previous points so I was anxious to hear what he wanted to share with me on that occasion. I wasn’t disappointed.
He began to talk to me about the importance of relationships, of being mentored and being a mentor someone else. He made reference to the unique relationships of Paul and Barnabas and Timothy from the New Testament. Then he said, “Ridley, don’t ever underestimate the importance of giving yourself to someone else as much you take from others.”
Wise words indeed.
As I approach my 45th birthday this weekend, I am aware (sometimes painfully) that my life is halfway over (yes, I plan to live till I am 90). The older I get, the more I see the value in what my friend shared with me that night. God’s word makes it clear that this life is NOT all there is. There is more. What we do with the 70 plus years God gives us says more about who we have become than we realize. I know that my life now must be more about investing in those to follow than in hoarding up for myself. I should be looking for ways to bless the generations that follow. Sadly, I see too many older people who forget this gift that they have…this gift of experience, wisdom, love and insight. Too many older people allow themselves to be pushed or they choose to drop out of the communities they are a part of and isolate themselves. Others spend more time on getting and going and gaining for themselves rather than sharing, caring and loving on others.
I’m not saying this like I’m so wise, old guru who wants to shed all his wisdom on those who are blessed enough to be in my presence. Rather, as one who has been “there”, I want to guide others who might make this world a better place. I want to encourage young people with the gifts they have. I want to become my kids biggest fan.
I have to remember (I hope you will too) this life is not about me. It’s not about what I gain or how many friends I make. It’s more about the footprints I leave behind, the fingerprints I leave on the hearts that God puts in my path. It’s about bringing Him glory from one breath to the next to the last. This video from Francis Chan speaks to the point I hope I’m making. Invest yourself wisely. The ripples you make will touch many generations.