by Tom Pappas
Last week I sent out 39 individual emails to fairly new members of our church; here are three responses from folks, far younger than me, who I invited to join a 6-week book study.
“Thank you so much for the invite, but honestly I don't even have time to read for fun anymore ha-ha! Maybe in a couple months once my body's adjusted to my new weird hours I'll be able to get involved.”
“Thanks for the invite, but it will not work for me at this time. I just can't add another thing into the schedule right now (my little ones are 1 and 3). It does look like a really interesting book though! I may have to pick it up on my own.”
“Thanks so much for the invitation! It feels good to be asked. Right now might not be the best time for us, we are getting used to being first-time parents (our son was born 7-29-14) and our schedule is pretty out of whack. We would certainly be interested some time down the road though.”
There are common elements, don’t you think? Polite and grateful. Stressed and hopeful.
Their answers caused me to reflect on how it was for me (us) many years ago.
Who among us doesn’t always need to prioritize and choose? Good for us when we use our resources of time and energy in ways that pay off in the long haul. Good for us when we listen well and drill down to the bedrock commitments that make us better, our families better and the world better.
Since receiving the responses I shared above, I have been reminiscing my yes’s and no’s as a person their age and in their position. That was a busy time and it’s possible I sometimes said yes under the guise of, “I will be a better dad/husband/Christian”, if I take that seminar, lead that class, or go on that retreat. I cannot say if that is, in fact, what happened.
Turning back to the present, it is my sincere prayer that my respondents who don’t do the study get full value in not doing it. May they be the best moms, dads and new employees on crazy schedules that they can possibly be.
Also in the present I argue with myself about the merits of supporting the institution and being a team player, or letting others be that person while I take care of what I think is a wiser personal choice. Truth be told, most of the time that I take one for the team, it ends up being worthwhile and I don’t regret it.
Of this I am completely sure. God is trustworthy. Jesus is the finest example of how to live and how to be fully alive. Trusting God offers assurance that God’s will can be achieved with either of two good choices – and don’t we all know stories of God redeeming lousy choices.