The end of every story is simply the beginning of another. Last Friday I finished a teaching contract at a thriving and fun Christian High School. In my beloved math den, we always began class with a devotional discussion. (This was always deeply appreciated by the students of course, who may have been on devo overload at times.) I didn’t mind. Bring on a few rolling eyes – it was early in the morning after all. As I decided what message to leave them with, a video came to mind I had watched months prior.
The video relays how one young Christian Pastor chased achievement tenaciously, only to end up disappointed and broken. By the time he was thirty, he had written several successful Christian books, was pastoring a thriving church and becoming recognized as an anointed speaker. Somehow in the shuffle, his significance became tightly tied to his achievements. When his woven achievements unraveled, he was left devastated. His wife left him and his ministry diminished. He found himself a single dad, changing diapers – pondering the question:
Am I still significant? Yes. Just as significant? Yes.
As I looked at my students I was reminded of the times I spewed challenging words at them. I often affirmed they are heavy beacons of potential – and should they forget or waste it – I would hunt them down with a robust reminder that they are capable of much. However, in this moment, my raccoon-like, liquid eyes had a different message. One I often need to remind myself:
We are not valuable because of our achievements. We are empowered to achieve because God has made us valuable with gifts, talents and skills to use for Him.
I am reminded of Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians: that they may have a “Spirit of wisdom and revelation” so that they may “Know Him better” and that “The eyes of (their) heart(s) may be enlightened in order that (they) may know the hope to which he has called (them).” He prays this so they may receive “The fullness of Him who fills everything in every way.” – Ephesians 1:17-23
I told my students: “If I meet you on the street in ten years – My prayer for you is not about what you have accomplished, but instead, about who you are. Whether you are changing diapers or the world, whether you are becoming a doctor or a traveler, who are you? May you be one beaming with fullness because you Know God. May it be your first goal in life – to radiate Who He Is. May he authorize you to chase him … First, before any title, status or achievement. And may your primary life goal read: Know him. May all else flow from this.”
Some extra good news:
When we get this wrong… and we will…
When we crash on our noses – when we forget him and chase the wrong things first – It is not the end of the story. It wasn’t the end for the man in the video, it’s not the end for my students, and even though my time at the Christian school is done, it is not the end for me either. The end of one story is simply the beginning of another. God is on the move sprinkling insurmountable grace freely on all who ask. God, we want to know you.