Hi everyone. Rob here.
It is done. After 3 years, 2 extensions and a whole lot of life’s curveballs being thrown, I have sent my thesis in for marking. It feels like a significant achievement. There’s a part of me that wants to throw a huge party and race around screaming ‘I DID IT!!!’ There’s also another part that wants to play it down, aware that people are going through many things at the moment and this is my achievement, not theirs. But it’s not just my achievement. It never is for any of us. This is why I must celebrate as I have a deep desire to honour everyone who helped me get this thing done. That includes you – the readers of this blog – as I tested ideas and shared my learning with you. Thank you everyone.
When we think about our lives it is very hard to truly act in isolation. Our actions, or non-actions for that matter, affect others, just as the actions of others affects us. When we fail to honour our achievements then, we fail to honour those who helped us to achieve. so yesterday I brought gifts home for my family even as they set up a celebratory dinner. Today I sent thank you emails to those who have helped financially and prayerfully. More thank you’s will come.
A top golfer named Jordan Spieth has this habit whenever he’s interviewed of saying things like “we had a good round today” or “our execution has been spot-on.” He’s very aware of how hard people around him work in order for him to play good golf. To even get to work we drive on roads made by other people, in a car that others have designed and made, run on petrol and oil that others have discovered, extracted, refined and delivered. The food on our table tonight has been produced by farmers and gardeners, picked by labourers, packaged, delivered, marketed and so on by countless others. We do not act alone in this world. We cannot escape the connectivity that exists in humanity. We are part of it so we need to embrace it.
The best communities are those that allow people to flourish for the benefit of everyone else. By contrast, dysfunctional communities are those that tear others down or dehumanize them so others can feel powerful. When we recognize that we depend on each other then we want others to become the best they can be. I want my children’s teachers to flourish, my doctor to grow professionally and my church family to grow more connected to God. Yes, I benefit from this, but that’s the point. We all benefit when people flourish and they benefit when you flourish too.
If doing my Masters degree failed to improve me as a pastor, person and thinker then it was a waste of time. But it did improve me. I became more aware of how important it is to honour people and their stories, to practice radical hospitality and be a consistent loving presence in our community. I discovered that God can only be talked about in a healthy way in the context of relationships and community. You can’t disconnect God from people without damaging both. So I learnt and others will benefit from that learning. As we all grow into the people God wants us to be, we then become that flourishing plant where the birds rest that Jesus talked about in Matthew 13:31-32. We reveal the kingdom of God to others as we love each other with Christ’s love, thus empowering others to live fully in Christ, for the sake of his kingdom.
This week may you think about how connected you are to your community. Is it helping you to flourish or is it tearing you down? Are you raising others up? Who do you need to thank?
God bless. Grace and peace everyone.