About 15 years ago I determined as a minister to write from the heart. Before you jump to quick I need to be clear, that does not mean I let my heart trump God’s Word, it just means I decided it would be OK to be honest about my emotions in ministry. I still hold back at times - I don’t want to be an open sore or a whiner - but I have found that I am not as nearly as odd as I thought in my ministry and that my transparency has helped others.
For some reason, I have to write. It helps my soul and pushes me to be better when I put it in words. When I hurt I write from my hurt (not in anger but in processing and trying to figure out how to be what I know I want to be), and that is when more people are moved by my writing. So maybe I need more pain in my life to help more people. I try to be transparent and “cautious” in writing when in pain. And I want to avoid bitterness. I tried a bitterness suit on one time and it didn’t look good on me.
I was happy to usher 2017 out the door. In some ways, it was the most emotionally difficult year of my life. I had a dream and passion that I had held onto for five years disintegrate without explanation and felt betrayed, useless, purposeless, and with no energy for anything (thankfully, I had prayed before it all happened and I trust the Lord and already have some new dreams). Four very close family members dealt with deep hurt and disappointment too and their pain added to my pain. A member of the church I preach for attacked me very publicly and tried to get me fired (thankfully, my elders love me and the church provided me more encouragement than I deserve). I put over 40 pounds back on of what I had lost. It was a difficult year.
Five years ago, through my son Andrew, I ran across the little book One Word That Will Change Your Life. The idea was to ditch resolutions and pick a word that you would try to live that year. It’s been exciting each year. One year it was the word Prepare, another it was Present, and still another it was Positive. This year my word is…well, let me come back to it.
Are you aware that Michael Jordan’s career NBA field goal shooting percentage was 50.5% and Lebron James is 50.3%? For this year the college team with the highest average percentage is Virginia Tech at 53%. High school is harder to figure but it is considered to be 30-35%. That means that even the best shooters miss about 1/2 of all the shots they take.
Press rewind about 40 years. I was a basketball fanatic at little Jefferson Christian Academy. I was in 10th grade and believed I would someday play in the NBA. Now, in 9th grade, I’d played Varsity and our team had won a total of, well, one game. We weren’t good. I think it was the year before that we’d gotten beat 101-1, but that’s another story. The summer of ’78 my parents figured out a way to scrape enough money together to send me to Alabama Christian College’s summer basketball camp. I was about 5 foot 7. I met an old coach, Coach Gordo. They had split us into groups and then we would move from station to station receiving instruction in the fundamentals of the game from different coaches. Coach Gordo was the one teaching rebounding. He said: “The shortest guy on the court can out-rebound the tallest guy. It takes two things positioning and hard work.” He pointed at the tree of a guy in our group and then at me and said: “Let me show you.” And, he changed my basketball life. He taught me how to rebound. And sure enough, I could by hard work and getting in the right position out-rebound that guy. Over the next couple of years, I moved from guard to forward and even played center some. I took it as a personal challenge to match up against the tallest player on the other team, not because I was a better or more athletic player but I would outwork him and could get in the right position. And, even though there were several players taller than me, I led my team in rebounding.
2017 was a tough year. And my word for 2018 is “rebound.” I will work hard and position myself to do and be the things I need to do and be to help, with faith, this year be better.
So, what’s your word?