I’ve always felt like if you are going to do something, you should go all-in. Not only should you commit to the fullest, you should urge others to jump into the pool, too. I never understood people sitting on the sidelines watching others pull the load.
If your kid is playing ball, you should be coaching.
If you believe in the issue, lead the charge.
If you’re a member, actively participate.
Everyone should be all-in. Lead, follow, or get out of the way. Be 100% committed. These have been my mantras and I don’t think they are inherently wrong or bad. What is wrong is the judgment and lack of sympathy for others who aren’t in accord. This epiphany came to me during an innocuous conversation last week.
I was asked to sit on a panel at Emory University to speak to young people who hope to go into medicine. The topic was patient experience – the good, the bad, and the ugly. Having experienced each of those during our cancer treatment, I was able to elucidate all three positions. One of my fellow speakers was a cancer mom I have met digitally, but never in person, although I have interviewed her daughter via FaceTime.
Before the event started, we were in the midst of a good conversation regarding church and faith when she asked where we went to church. A legitimate question… but it has a trick answer. For the first time in our married lives, we don’t have a church home. Right now, church doesn’t feel right. The two congregations that loved us through Kylie’s sickness and death both worship in sanctuaries that contain stages on which she performed numerous times. To sit through a service at either place is to see her singing, acting, and dancing. We tried for a while and never heard a sermon… we just heard her.
We do go to church – sometimes “homechurch”, but frequently a large church where the sermons are deep and thought-provoking. It’s a place where there are plenty of opportunities to serve, but also contains a huge, packed sanctuary where people can sit in the back and get lost in the masses. I explained that we had always been active leaders who taught and served, but right now we need to blend in the back.
“This should be a lesson to us that everyone at church can be at a different place in their life and have different needs,” my new friend wisely said.
I’m a dense sort. I smiled, agreed, and went on until later in the day when I was alone, something started gnawing at me. That epiphany jumped up and bit me.
You see, for all of those years, not only have I been on my church’s front row, I’ve looked down on the people in the back row – the 80% not pulling their weight. Oh, I never confronted anyone, but I certainly considered them inactive leaches while we pious 20% did the heavy lifting. And now, from my new seat, I realize that while I sat in judgment, there are plenty of legitimate life situations that plant people in the back row. I probably looked down on many helpless and hurting people. Rather than condemn them, I should have been more loving and celebrated the fact that they had the strength to make it through the door.
And this doesn’t just pertain to church. Maybe a bunch of those dads who wouldn’t coach soccer with me or build theater sets felt lost, inadequate, or had issues I couldn’t have dreamed of.
Wow! This self-discovery stuff is great until you discover you are the one with the problem.
A Pharisee, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Matthew 22: 35-40 (NIV)