We sure love our programs, don’t we?
Has it ever occured to you how programmed our lives are? It’s true; we have a program for just about everything we do. Not a day passes without having some sort of program in place to help us get by…
- Dieting plans
- Personal devotions
- Calendar management
- Local church ministry
Don’t get me wrong — “program” isn’t a bad word and I’m not saying all programs are wrong. It would be foolish of me to suggest that any one of the things I listed above is evil or wrong in and of themselves. However, when more stock is put in the program than on the principle behind the program, we tread on thin ice.
Again, don’t think I’m “anti-program.” I’m all for them, as long as their principle-based and not a program for program’s sake.
Let me explain.
I moved out of my parent’s home when I was 15 years old. Was I too young? Would I do it again? Would I counsel another to do the same thing?
Yes and no.
As I recall the circumstances involved at that time in my life, I can absolutely and unquestionably see the Providence of God guiding me through a decidedly rough situation. Early on in my journeying away from home, there was a secondary father figure that came into the picture of my life. His kindness and unbelievable generosity were what initially drew me to both him and his family. I soon considered myself a surrogate son.
Though it was kindness and generosity that brought me close to him, just as David and Jonathan of old had their hearts “knit together,” it soon became evident that it was his unwavering and contagious faith that was going to be the primary attribute I would eventually relate to the most.
Contagious faith. Faith that was passed on.
His line of work (which he brought me into, for a time) afforded him and I much time together, often driving hours upon hours together in his service vehicle. Always willing to pick up the tab for any meal of the day (which I was most thankful for, being a broke teenager living paycheque to paycheque), he would go through our days together doing his fair and balanced share of both talking and listening.
There were special days where rather than just go about his work tasks (some of which I’m sure he’d done a million times before) he would simply tell me what he was doing and what he was going to do next, almost narrating his daily work orders, more often than not taking the time to connect whatever he was doing to a spiritual truth — contagious faith in action.
Then there were the times outside of work, when he and I really connected…
- There was the time we spent three straight days together in July 2002 at Word Youth Day in Toronto doing open air evangelism and literature distribution. I watched his contagious faith in action.
- He really threw me for a loop on a summer Sunday morning when he suggested we skip church and go boating (gasp!). It turned out while we were having the time of our lives that we ended up talking to a dozen or so people about Biblical Christianity. His contagious faith was being spread again.
All those times we spent together, I was being mentored and discipled in my faith.
No lesson plans.
No lesson objectives.
No notes given nor written down.
His continues to be a life lived with contagious faith.
Do we need programs? Yes. Do we need formal times of official teaching and learning? Yes. Do we need structure and discipline on our calendars and task lists? Yes.
More than this, however, we need people who live principle-centred lives regardless of the setting or scenario. You or I could be the world’s most knowledgable person on any given topic but if we don’t take the time to live outside the classroom what we teach inside the classroom, it will just be empty words. Former US President Theodore Roosevelt perhaps summed this thought up best:
Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.