Weekly Thought – August 20, 2019
Fred closed his earthly chapters on August 17, 2007 at 9:15am in Dallas, TX. His daughters stood by his bed watching the heart monitor show the declining rate. At the last moment physical life ended but his spiritual life continued on. The thought this week is a retelling of Fred’s own story of his life theme. Our prayer at BWF is for your hearts and minds to be strengthened and stretched.
He Stretched Others
I was once asked at age 69 what was next for me. “What direction do you want to take as you head into your 70s?” “What new things do you want to do with your life?” The interviewer challenged me to set out my goals for the next 10 years. I don’t think she expected my response.
“My direction is the one that has fueled me since my late twenties.”
I grew up in the mill district of North Nashville. The advantages of social position, money, and upward movement weren’t mine. But I knew instinctively I had a purpose. I analyzed my gifts; I studied my motivations; and I went to a cemetery. Yes, I went to a cemetery, sat on a tombstone, and considered what I wanted on my headstone. As I sat there I said, “One day I will be under the stone and this is what I want marking my life.”
Strongly influenced by the power of brevity by Western Union telegrams I settled on three words: “He Stretched Others.”
Those three words became the aim in my life. That is why I mentor, teach, talk, and write. It is sheer joy to see someone stretched, even if it makes them a bit uncomfortable. When I see someone with talent who is way too comfortable, I do my best to unsettle them. I probe, prod, and often put a burr under their saddle.
But I never do this if they do not have the capability to stretch. I never challenge a man with one leg to become a long-distance runner. I am careful in my coaching to not talk to people about things which they clearly cannot do. That is unkind.
But almost all of us can stretch way beyond where we are. We settle for so little when so much is possible. I express my belief in them and then they believe.
So, my goals for the next ten years (or however much time God gives me), I will continue in my desire to stretch others. I think God intended me to do this. This is my sweet spot.
(Editor’s note: Fred is buried at Restland Cemetery in Dallas, TX under a headstone with three words: He Stretched Others next to Mary Alice.)
This week think about: 1) What do I want for my epitaph? 2) What do I think God intended me to do? 3) How can I encourage growth in others?
Words of Wisdom: “We settle for so little when so much is possible.”
Wisdom from the Word: “I have had great joy and encouragement because of your love, for the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you, brother.” (Philemon 1:7 NET Bible)