“Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us” -1Thess. 2:8
There is a profound difference between being around someone and being with someone. The “I see you” connection from Avatar is vastly different from the surface connection of a Facebook friend. Kids today are no different than kids of yesterday. They long for connection with others, especially their parents. Take the time to truly connect with your kids.
We are packing up to make that long, flat drive across Kansas to say goodbye to our dear friend, mentor, example and boss, Richard Beach. He passed away a few days ago after a truly courageous 16-year battle with cancer. I know Rich is at peace, healed and loving being in the presence of the Lord. He impacted so many people for Christ during his 65 years on this earth. I’m sure the memorial service will be huge.
I‘ve been reflecting on what made Rich so unique. He had an amazing ability to make everyone feel comfortable in his presence. He didn’t have a graduate degree in anything and he never wrote a book (though we tried to get him to write one many, many times)!
So, how was Rich able to touch so many people’s lives, from the stewardess to the bank president? I think the secret lied in his ability and willingness to connect. Sure, he was an extrovert, but the “connection ingredient” isn’t about temperament, but about love.
Rich simply made the choice to love. His willingness to love the unlovely sometimes got him into trouble too. Much like Jesus sharing with the adulteress woman, Rich sometimes embarrassed those closest to him. But his heart of love simply had no choice.
Kids are asking, no, they are begging, for us as parents to provide that kind of connection and love. Not the cheap “I love you because you’re my child” love, but the thick kind of love that jumps in all the way. Rich invested into every life he encountered, whether that person was lovable are not.
Rich was simply a reflection of the love of Jesus who loved unconditionally. Many claim that kind of love, but Rich lived it out with every person he encountered along the way. There’s not one of us who had the privilege of working closely with him who wasn’t embarrassed by one of his encounters at some point. Sitting at a restaurant, Rich would joke with the grouchy waiter and minutes later be sharing Christ with her. No matter the result of their conversation, they would part with a hug and a smile.
The legacy Rich leaves behind for his family and for thousands of teenagers and mentors is that love is an action verb not a passive noun. If God is on my heart, I have no choice other than to impart my life to everyone I encounter.
Parents, squeeze every drop out of every encounter with your teenager. Impart your life. Love. Give. Sacrifice.
Rich, have a blast as you encounter Christ Himself. Enjoy the time together. You deserve it!