2 DAYS until I turn 30 (February 18th). The last month I’ve been reflecting on the last 30 years and gearing up for the next 30. Reflecting on the past 3 decades I have learned a couple of lessons that I pray to not re-learn going forward. Over the next couple of days I will have a sereis of lessons that I have learned and or am learning that I hope to share for the soul purpose of having them published so I never forget. So this is Things going into 30 part 3… in 5 parts.
1. Jesus is the bar.
Specifically as it relates to pursuing my faith, trying to define whether or not I’m radically pursuing Jesus based on how those around me has always led to narcism. Jesus is not an idea, or belief system, He’s a human man who is also God. Therefore loving Him requires solidarity in focus. When I’m comparing my walk with God to someone else’s my end becomes to be like them, and not like Jesus. In trying to be like other people you become obsessed with everything you do. You passionately try to make sure it appears as though you are meeting the standard that their life seems to have produced. Your walk with Christ becomes less about His glory and more about your glory. It becomes about gaining praise from those you are striving to emulate. If there is one lesson I’ve learned over the last 30 years, it’s that Jesus sees me. He sees everything I do. When I believe that He sees me, I don’t care who else see me. When I believe He sees me, He becomes the one I fight to be like. My pursuit is Him, not anyone or anything else.
2. Seek faithfulness not opportunity
It’s especially easy and in many scenarios wise to be looking ahead to see where you are going. In life the opportunity to step into your dreams, or the opportunity to do something great will come. When it comes there is nothing that stings more than letting it pass you by. However I’ve found that there is much wisdom in bearing that sting and watching opportunity slowly drift off over the horizon.
Over the last decade I’ve been offered jobs 8 times my current annual salary. (which isn’t that big consider my current anual salary ) Positions with influence, events with famous people, and jobs with ability to give me everything I could want. I’ve been blessed over the years, and I’ve been blessed to politely decline over the years as well. Why? Because of that man named Jesus on that throne in Heaven. When I close my eyes I see that throne, and I think about the account I will have to give to Him about my life one day. When I weigh how certain opportunities would distract from my pursuit of His heart, the maintaining of my wife and kids, the stability of a tender heart when I’m older, if it’s a threat, it’s out.
When I was a teenager I learned this concept from my ever wise mother. I was having the typical just turned 18 and have no idea what I’m going to do with my life existential crisis. One night I broke down in tears stressed out by the expectations I felt others had on my life, the expectations I had on my life and the perceived pressure to have it all figured out that very moment. I’ll never forget she sat me down on the couch and made me look into her eyes. She said, “Son I don’t care if you are a missionary or a business man. If you end up doing nothing else with your life and the sum of your accomplishments is working at McDonald’s. If you are in love with Jesus with your whole heart, mind, soul, and strength- I will be the proudest mother a son could ever have.”
I’m sure many things will be said of my life, but may the theme and story of Zack Hensley be a man passionately pursuing the heart of Jesus and nothing else. It’s all that matters.
3. Be the little blue truck.
My daughter has this book about a little blue truck. It works hard everyday and always gets its work done. He is intentional about stopping along the way to visit with all the animals around the farm and to help them out while getting his work done. Then a big “important” yellow truck comes plowing through the farm. He doesn’t have time to visit with the animals or help them with anything. Then one day the yellow truck plows through a mud puddle and gets his “big important wheels stuck”. He calls out to the animals and anyone who would hear to help him out of the puddle but “no one heard (or really cared)”. Then the little blue truck came along and tried to help him free, but he also got stuck. He called out for help and everyone came running to help him out of the mud. They pushed him and he pushed the big “important yellow truck”. The animals got him free and in turn the little blue truck gave them all a ride.
The moral? Often times I have been the “big important yellow truck” plowing through life, with no time to stop and visit or help anyone. My goal as I turn 30 is to be more like the little blue truck. To care just as much about building strong and lasting relationships with people as much as I care about the jobs that I have to do.
4. Cry often
There is nothing worse in this life then having a heart that is dull. A dull heart can’t love. It can’t empathize, serve well, or understand. A dull heart is the quickest way to a lifeless and loveless marriage. A dull heart turns well intentioned ambition into self serving promotion. A dull heart swings open the door to anxiety, depression, and bitterness. Worse of all a dull heart can’t love God.
Catching myself tearing up during worship, or when I tell my wife I love her is a suitable metric for the tenderness of my heart. If life seems hard, and my heart begins to feel dull there is a good chance that it’s been weeks since my eyes got a little misty. I don’t mean I need to find my self, head in hands, weeping on a regular basis. I just mean if my daughter sneaking across the room climbing onto my lap and saying “Dad, I love you very much. you’re beautiful too!” doesn’t get my eye lids wet, something is wrong. If singing the old hymn “It is Well With My Soul” doesn’t get me teary by the time I get to the part “And Lord haste the day when my faith becomes sight” something is wrong. I pray that when I’m 60 have have a reputation for being a “cryer”.
5. Do things smaller
If I’ve learned anything it’s that you are never too busy. I mean it. Every time I think I’m too busy to do things like read a book, write a book, serve at a downtown soup kitchen, I look at my schedule realize in order to read a book I’m looking for 3 to 4 hours to sit and read. So instead of blocking out 4 hours to read I block out 30 minutes. If you focus, 30 minutes can be very productive.
I used to say I didn’t have the time to write a book, so I started watching entertainment less. Lo and behold I gained an hour each night. Instead of trying to find 2-3 hours at a time with friends I focus and have more meaningful conversations in an hour lunch then I ever did spending 3 hours at the movies. Instead of spending 2 hours a day e-mailing. I schedule 30 minute meetings, and spend 10-15 minutes before hand outlining the topic of conversation. That 30 minutes solves hours of e-mail back and forth for the next 2 weeks. This means being able to do the things important to you while increasing time in the two areas I care about most: Prayer and Family.
Doing things smaller and more focused means I get to be the man I hope I am when I’m 60: A lover of Jesus, A husband my wife thanks God for, and Father to my kids that makes the Lord smile.