I sit here pretty much speechless after John’s and my conversation last Sunday on the way to church. One of my favorite scenes in Jane Austen’s Emma comes to mind when I am in this state – speechless, yet so full of words trying to describe the awe of being in such a state.
It is one thing to read about the faithful in Scripture, and another to witness it in our lifetime. John and I know we are abundantly blessed to have an arsenal of Christian examples and mentors from the prior generation.
So I decided to list all of the things both John and I are grateful to have learned from seasoned Christians over so many years. People we’ve known who’ve come from so many different backgrounds, yet Christ ties us together where we may have some gaps in understanding.
Each mentor has been unique, teaching us Godly things in their own way and in the proper time. We have learned from some by watching, not necessarily having an actual friendship.
Some of our mentors include some of you reading this piece.
Since you are modest, you may feel a little self-conscious about right now. But we want to say these things while we have opportunity.
You continue to be faithful first to God, and work through your imperfections as best as you know how.
You’ve taught us to read God’s Word privately as well as value it publicly in church.
You’re kind to those who disagree with you. You have private conversations where you can hear someone else better on weighty matters.
You are always pleasant, asking us how we are doing, and do for us if you can.
Some of you have left congregations to build other congregations from the ground up. When you leave, you are always missed!
Some of you have power, privilege, personal gifting and position, yet you use it humbly.
You have honored your parents and follow the good examples left by prior generations, forgiving any failings in them as you would want to be forgiven.
You listen twice as much as you speak.
You think profoundly before launching into conversations about complex life and church problems in a gathering where others might not understand the issue and possibly be discouraged.
You understand that though salvation is a gift to be guarded, it is not to be held to oneself. It is best guarded by teaching others directly or supporting others who teach the Gospel well.
You seek to point mankind to Christ who has changed the world.
You have been praying for the next generation all our lives.
You bless when misunderstood.
You balance church life and family while not compromising your soul’s goal of going to Heaven.
You sometimes are misunderstood as being judgmental when, in fact, you are merely seeking to use good judgment as Scripture teaches.
You cheer us on in the best way you know how, and patiently wait knowing if we live long enough, we’ll be in your shoes.
And when we learn the lessons you’ve already learned, you’re patient as we work through our “aha” moments. You are forgiving when we act like we’re the first person or generation to truly understand a principle you’ve been teaching all along. For we know now that you’ve been first seeking to teach us in your actions, then in words, as you were taught by your parents to do. Principles saints have practiced through all ages. We are thankful to be in such company, and have more wonderful things in common the more we grow.
You make it to church as often as you can, unless health or circumstance prevents you.
You seek to cross the generational, cultural and other divides as best as you know how.
You keep learning.
You don’t seek to be worshipped, for you have taught us that God must come before all human relations that all might be in right relationship with each other.
You have lost precious parents, special siblings and children unexpectedly, but have not lost your faith.
Your may be aging, but your spirit is sharper than ever. We wish we had your vitality!
My list goes on, but I’ll put a period there.
We seek to be the kind of people in our generation that generates a spirit deserving honor when we get to be your age. We know the next generation is watching how we are honoring you and learning.
If we accomplish half of what you do, we will consider ourselves successful. You owe us nothing, but it is us who owe you and we’ll seek to live lives that show that gratitude!
This is the gratitude project, to learn better today how to honor you, our mentors recent and from long ago, in everything we do and say.
We are so grateful for you and your service to the Lord. We know we aren’t worthy to be in such a place, but we find ourselves here as advocates for our families, ambassadors for our congregations and students of Christ in it all. We know we aren’t the only ones who feel this way, but at the same time, don’t want to presume upon anyone else how they might honor their spiritual ancestors.
I dedicate this post to our spiritual parents, and my personal parents who have been faithful ministers of the Gospel, on and off the mission field and are terrific parents, full of fun, joy and spiritual depth.