I love watching the classic Christmas movies like Apocalypse Now, Blade Runner and Saw III, but as uplifting and full of merriment as those are, I think my favorite has to be It’s a Wonderful Life with Jimmy Stewart. I know, I’m a big wuss. I can’t help it. I just love that movie and even though I have seen it a couple dozen times, I still get a little emotional watching it. I love it when Clarence the angel says, “You see George, you really have had a wonderful life”. George Baily ends up being the richest man in town, not because of money or possessions, that of course would be Mr. Potter. George Baily was the richest man in town because of friendships.
On July 18, I had a party at my house celebrating my years at YS, kind of a reunion of everybody I had worked with over the years. It was a fantastic evening and I was overwhelmed with the love and affection shown by so many friends. That night, and the weeks leading up to it with calls and emails, I was reminded that I am a rich man. I was reminded that I have been blessed with meaningful relationships, with lots of good friends. I am so thankful for the people God has placed in my life. Yes I am one rich dude!
It’s funny, most of us say relationships matter but live much of our lives like they don’t. We spend way too much time “being productive”, “planning”, “strategizing” , “reaching goals”, trying to build our own little kingdoms, scrambling for power, position, wealth, recognition, whatever. We just get caught up. In the end, that stuff just doesn’t really matter as much as we think it does. It’s fool’s gold. I am not saying what we do does not matter, of course it does. I want to do everything with excellence, I want to give my best to my job or calling, I’m just saying often we give too much and we pay a price for that. We KNOW what Jesus says about loving our neighbor. We KNOW, amazingly enough, that Jesus calls us his friends. We KNOW relationships matter to God, yet somehow we get sidetracked and focus on other things.
During the past election we kept hearing the phrase “it’s the economy, stupid” to remind us what some people thought was the only real issue in the election, the only thing worth paying attention to and talking about. Maybe we need to start saying “It’s people, stupid”. People are what matter….pay attention.
One of the unexpected benefits of losing my job at YS, is that I have been so powerfully reminded of just how rich I am. How blessed I am with friends. But I am also aware that I was forgetting that. As I look at my last few years at YS, I am aware of how I was letting relationships go fallow. I was not giving my relationships at YS (and other places) the attention they deserved . I was too “on task” . I was trying to “get things done”. I was spending way too much time in front of my computer and not enough time face to face with the people I cared about. Work was drowning out friendships and if I am honest with myself, I was not as happy, not as fulfilled …I was getting too caught up. In the rear-view mirror I see it a little more clearly.
I guess what I am realizing in a new way, is just how easy it is to take relationships for granted, assuming they will just happen. I’m amazed at how easily I can focus instead on the fool’s gold. If friendships truly make us wealthy, and I believe they do, I want to get rich, filthy rich, obscenely rich. This is the kind of prosperity gospel I can get behind.
PS I will be backpacking and joyfully away from my computer till August 23
4 responses to “Being Rich is Awesome”
thank you for your honesty. it is a gift and a treasure. much love to you & your family.
Right on Tic! This is a tough one for us type-A personalities (of which is the majority of youth workers!). I see this all the time, especially in the church. I watch pastors fry their brains out and leave their family behind. Working with p.k.’s is confirmation of that. I lost my family doing full-time youth ministry. Thank God it only took me 6 years to get it! When your kid walks out of your life and the rest check out of church, huge flags start going up. I often wonder if the youth ministry God calls us to is with our very own kids God so graciously blessed us with. Imagine that? I had to step down from full-time youth ministry 4 years ago. It tore me up, but my son who left me came back, my youngest daughter recommitted her life to Christ at camp last weekend and my home is a home of peace and ministry. It’s mind blowing. Kind of sad that we don’t comprehend our “Timothy” may actually our very own son. After all, Paul did call him son didn’t he? Rejoice in your peace, joy and fulfillment Tic! Praise God for Him giving you this time for your friends and family. I’d imagine Yac would have appreciated it too!
Tic! I couldn’t have said it any better. I’m joining you in re-committing myself to relationships that matter brother. Thanks for the encouragement!
I just (today) found out that you are no longer with YS. Wow! Sad. Shocked. Yet, in some way not surprised, because God has been shaking things up in big ways all over. You don’t know me, but I feel like I have lost a friend, just like when Mike left us, because I have followed YS for so long and am used to seeing your face. I have appreciated your ministry for so long. (My pastor still has copies of the Whittenburg Door that he shares with me). Well, he did……God just moved him after 15 years of working together. Congratulations to you. This means that God has something really awesome planned for you. As I’ve been telling my college graduates, ‘who aren’t exactly where they ‘want’ to be’, and are very mad at God right now. Maybe God has something else in mind. This is where the ‘faith’ aspect comes in. If we could see the answer, we wouldn’t need the faith. I will miss seeing you at the convention, my friend. Blessings and prayers go with you in this very scary, exciting time in your life. ‘What a ride’!