Seeking Their Story


A great man died last week.  His name was John.  I knew him for 8 years, but I never really got the chance to know him.  While listening to his eulogy at his memorial service I realized what an interesting life he led.  I also realized the opportunity I missed by not getting to know him better.  It’s funny how listening to a eulogy can help you understand how easy it is to misread a person — and then it’s too late.

This isn’t the first time I’ve done this.  One of my grandpas was a POW in WWII and I never talked to him about it — although that was mostly because he didn’t like to talk about it.  My other grandpa was also a WWII veteran.  My dad had one of the most colorful lives I’ve known, and while I do know most of his stories, there are some important details that I don’t know.  All three of these wonderful men are residing in their heavenly mansions, taking their stories with them.

I’m always looking for the life lesson in epiphanies such as these.  Here are a couple that occurred to me while contemplating these great men.

To Worship Pastors

It’s easy to judge a book by it’s cover, but often our judgements are wrong when we do so.  We have a casual church but John came in a suit every week.  My judgement was that he was a conservative person and my assumption was that bled into his taste in music — that he was another gray-haired person who would complain any time I did a new song.  WRONG!  At the request of his wonderful widow I played a mixture of the brand new songs and a few older songs.  It was wonderfully balanced.  

Every time this happens to me I’m embarrassed by my assumptions.  After 20 years of leading worship let me tell you if I could do anything over again it would be to get to know the older saints in my congregations better.  Not only would I get to hear some amazing stories, and in the process learn to love these dear saints more deeply, they would get to know me better, learning to love me more deeply.  This is not utopia.  It’s a biblical principle.  Love Can Overcome Anything And Any Barrier.

To Sons/Daughters/Grandsons/Granddaughters

It’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness of life.  There is no condemnation coming from me.  As I’ve confessed already, I’m a multiple offender.  So, instead of making my mistake, take time to spend with your loved ones.  Care for them.  Despite the way they can drive us crazy by offering unsolicited advice, telling us the same stories over and over, or just being cranky, spend time with them.  Dive deeper into their stories.  Make memories.

I understand there are verbally abusive parents that are unhealthy to be around.  As with everything in life, use good judgement. Don’t take my thoughts as a push towards unhealthy situations.

To Parents/Grandparents/Mentors

As we get older we can feel pushed aside, like we are not needed.  I’m old/young enough to bridge both sides of this topic.  Let me encourage us that we need to mentor our kids, grandkids and young people.  They need us and we need them.  They need us to invest in their lives — share our stories and experiences with them.  They do not need us to push our agenda on them or not leave them the space to express who God made them to be.  We need them to help us stay young — to keep learning new things, stay current, and not get set in our ways.

Andy Stanley has a great line about mentorship: empty your cup.  Don’t feel like you have to be the complete authority on an subject.  For years I was paralyzed in this area because I felt like I didn’t know enough.  Now I always tell young people that I will teach them everything I know and when I’ve emptied my cup they can find someone else to continue the process for them.  

Parents and grandparents, mentorship is a leadership tool often found in organizations.  However, it’s for us too.  Be proactive in your child & grandchild’s life.  Make memories and share your experiences.

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