Finding the missing words

Posted on November 27, 2013 by


Love2We all have significant memories in our lives.  Memories of events, people, and words that help shape us.  We also have memories of things that didn’t happen that shape us in powerful ways also.  These are the types of things that weren’t present in our lives, but were painfully obvious.

An example of that from my life has to do with my parents.  As we all are, my parents were products of their life circumstances and families.  My mom was born in 1929 in Berlin and grew up in pre-war and WWII Germany.  Her mother was a hard woman who had led a hard life.  Her father fought in both world wars and the Russian Revolution.  My father was born in 1933 in Russia and through crazy circumstances ended up in a German prisoner of war camp.   He spent nearly 5 years there and saw terrible atrocities.  He was 8 years old.  He never saw his family again.  They were both deeply wounded people who did the best they could do, which for much of their lives was simply to survive.

But even though survival may be the best we can do, it isn’t quite the full life we were made for.  So I grew up with parents who I know loved me, but they were two people who hadn’t ever experienced much real parenting in their own lives, and the result was that many of the things I longed for as a kid, I never received.  My mom and dad both died by the time I was 36, and I have no memories of either one ever telling me that they were proud of me.  You don’t realize these things as a kid, but you remember them not being there, and that affects you.  It’s no surprise that I spent most of my adolescent and adult life seeking the approval of other people.

There is a point to this auto-biographical information.  Because of my parent’s woundings, I paid a price.  I wouldn’t say it’s their fault.  They couldn’t have done much to help it.  But there are certain things that we are made for, and one of the deepest is to know and live in the pleasure of the Father. I believe that we are helped to believe that by knowing that our parents are proud of us.  It gives us a good picture of what it looks like and makes it so much more believable that our heavenly father would be proud of us.

For many, if not most, of the people we lead, this is an area of their hearts that is severely broken. In 2011 the CDC stated that 40.7% of births were to unmarried women.  A study by the Family Research Council found that only 46 percent of children in the United States will reach the age of 17 living in intact homes with married biological parents.  These and many other statistics simply point to the fact that most kids in the US grow up rarely hearing and not believing that anyone significant in their lives is proud of them.  The consequence of this upon the Christian is a crisis of faith.  How can we believe that our God loves us and is proud of us when we’ve never experienced or believed that anyone is.

Where does this leave us as leaders?

There are two ways to look at what this means for us.  One is that it is a tremendous challenge to lead a group of people that are so broken.  Maybe a challenge that is too big.  The second is to realize that God has given us one of the greatest opportunities on the face of the earth.  Of all the things that I speak into the lives of people, I’ve learned that the most significant and lasting are when I point people to God’s great pleasure in them.

My Stock Message

At the baptism of Jesus, a voice came out of heaven saying, “You are my beloved Son.  In You I am well-pleased.” (Luke 3:22)  I love that at this point in Jesus’ life, He had accomplished nothing more than carpentry.  He hadn’t taught thousands, healed many, multiplied the loaves and fish, gone to the cross or walked out of the grave.  Yet His Father looks at Him and tells Him that He couldn’t love Him any more than He does.  He tells Him that He is proud of Him.  His love and pleasure have nothing to do with performance, they have everything to do with the nature of the Father.  That’s just who He is, and as His Son, Jesus is the recipient.  In John 15:9 Jesus says, “Just as the Father has loved me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.”  Wow.  This means that I am the beloved.  It means that He is proud of me regardless of performance.

We get to create new memories in those we lead. We have the privilege of speaking life to the broken-hearted, living out the truth, and pointing others to the Father.