The Power of Presence | creed of jesus
A friend told me a long time ago that a person, especially a leader, must keep their essence. That is, a person has only a certain “essence”, a certain amount of personal power and energy that he can give to any thing. Once given, it cannot be retrieved. She is gone forever. Also, he warned me further, there are always people who would like to use your essence to achieve their goals.
I hadn’t thought of this conversation until recently when I attended an event and the event manager thanked me for coming. He said my presence at the event showed how important the event was. He said I added weight to the event. I hadn’t thought of it that way. My friend is part of a vital and life-changing ministry in Middle Tennessee, and I wanted to support his work.
But his comment got me thinking. What am I giving weight to without knowing it? What do I consider valuable just because I give it my time? And why am I giving my attention – the very thing that tech giants are willing to pay huge sums to secure – why am I giving it away so cheaply?
This internal conversation has grown since I turned 65. Things change with age. Suddenly you realize that you don’t have much time left. I’m not morbid, just honest. Even though I live to be 100, there is more of a road behind me than there is in front of me.
You start to see things differently when you realize your time is in short supply. Since time is scarce for me — and for all of us — I started looking at the things I was spending my time on, and here’s what I found. Many things do nothing. A meeting is called, things are discussed, then we decide to meet again. A wise sage once said that all is said and done much more than it is done. I’ve given up on these obligations – including a lot of social media – because it doesn’t add anything to my life.
I started a very disciplined practice of focusing on the things to do, and only doing the things that mattered. If something has no substance, I don’t want to do it.
So here are a handful of things I started to focus on.
I love my wife. Jeannie and I have been married for almost 42 years. She is beautiful, funny and graceful. She is my best friend. Sometimes I say I have something on my schedule when I just want to go home and spend my time with Jeannie. When I die, she’ll be the one I hate to leave, and if she dies first, she’ll be the one I’ll never get over. I will draw life from every moment with her.
I love studying the scriptures. I rediscover a fascination and admiration for the wonder of God. I spend most of my time reading and studying the depths of scripture. Honestly, I think I could preach every night if my church would let me. I don’t read many books on leadership or culture anymore. I read them once and then noticed that no one said anything new. So I like to study the Word and that’s where I will spend my time.
I love my children and my grandchildren. Nothing brings me more joy than being with my sons. Unless it’s spending time with my grandchildren. I confess. I am a terrible grandfather. My grandchildren stay up too late, eat more candy and buy more toys – I never say no. Being with them gives me confidence in life. My hope is restored. It’s one of the best things I do with my time.
I love my friends. Notice, I said friends, not acquaintances. If you can’t count your friends on one hand, you’re very lucky. I am very blessed. These friends make me laugh. They give me courage. They tell me the truth. They answer my call in the middle of the night. They have my back and I have theirs. They are worth my time.
I love my ministry. I love being the pastor of Brentwood Baptist Church. Every day I see Jesus appear in unexpected places and to unexpected people. I’m having too much fun to call it work.
A friend called and wanted to talk about his appointment to a prestigious, but largely ceremonial, position. I asked him, “What will be different after taking this position?
“Nothing,” he said.
I replied, “Then why would you want to give your life to something that does nothing?”
There is a power to our attention. There is an energy in your presence. You only have a limited amount. Make sure you use it for what matters…and only for what matters.