I can barely remember one or two sermons he preached. But I can share in vivid detail how he made me feel and how he treated me.
I grew up in a mega church and have since been a member of medium sized to smaller churches. All of them have pros and cons. I love each and every church I've been to for different reasons. I've been involved in more programs than I can count. I've made more friends than it seems imaginable. But one thing remains in my heart. Loving people.
I enjoy activities and bible studies and moms groups and outreaches. They all have their place and purpose in church life. But through it all the message we should be sending as a church is, "Jesus loved me and therefore I love you." People mattered to Jesus. Think of all the times He was in a crowd or on a journey, and when someone grabbed for his attention, he made time. He stopped, looked them in the eyes, and asked what they needed. I want to be like that. More than anything else in this world.
My youth pastor has since become the senior pastor of the church I grew up in and I'm sure he has a million things on his list. But whenever I come to town and call him or his wife up, they make the time. That matters to me more than any program could ever offer.
I am finishing up the book Modern Parents, Vintage Values by Melisa Trevathan and Sissy Goff. This paragraph struck me like lightning the minute I read it.
When you think back on the people who have most impacted your life, what would you say about them?... We would guess one phrase would describe them all: they took the time. They took the time to listen; they took the time to help; they took the time to encourage you; they took the time to love you...Passionate patience is about taking the time. Kids respond to someone who is present with them, listening to them, alive to the moment and what God has in it. Passionate patience is not passive in any way... What your children long for, what we long for, is for someone to be passionately patient with us not just in math lessons and ski school but in who we really are. You want someone who has the passionate patience to love you as you are and have hope for what God is forging inside you. Your children want the same thing. So don't lose a moment. Pray that Jesus will continue to build in you his passionate patience. And pray that God's Spirit will help calm your restlessness and make you alive to the moment and all that he has for you and for them in it.
As a parent, as a wife, as a friend, as a pastor's wife, I want my life to resonate with the life of Christ. He is the perfect example of passionate patience. Jesus didn't get caught up in big crowds and bright lights. He drew in the multitudes and preached with passion, but he was never "too important" or "too busy" for the individual. He didn't need to hire another disciple to speak to those who had questions or needs. He made Himself available. I want to be available. I want to love people.
(Image found here.)