Consider: The Outcome

13 08 2010

Part 10 of “Consider This”

Guilty pleasure: in summer I run out to Value Village (love Value Village) and buy old, used magazines to read; we’re talking “People,” “Vogue,” “O,” “Us;” anything that doesn’t require something like a brain to get through. Then, floating on the lake on an air-mattress or lounging around at the beach, I read all about what sources are saying about what other sources are saying about celebrities; fascinating! Plus I get to see what they are wearing and who wore it best because I will never actually own any of these clothes; important!

What’s interesting about reading these slightly out-of-date magazines is that I get to celebrate who is together and, a few magazines away, feel bad about how they broke up all in one sitting.  I get to read about an exciting new film some actress is in and then just an hour later, hear how badly she behaved on set, fought with fellow actors the whole way through and bombed at the box office! Best friends become worst friends, romance ends up in scandal, and million dollar dresses are on one magazine’s best-dressed list and in another’s worst. It’s a mad world we live in.

I am not exactly looking for life-lessons in these gossip magazines; it’s pretty hard to when you don’t know what is actually real; but I guess the outcomes speak for themselves. When you are looking at someone who is married 5 times, or is in rehab “again,” or is at the bottom when at one time they were “the most sought after,” there is a window into what must be true: disappointment, disillusionment, embarrassment, loneliness, confusion. One can assume.

Outcomes; that’s really what I am thinking about today. With the thousands of years that humans have occupied the earth, with quite a lot written down about the comings and goings of them, you would think we would be less likely to do really stupid things; but we aren’t. What we do, has been done before (nothing new under the sun, the writer of Ecclesiastes tells us, and he wrote this eons ago) so why, oh why, do we not take the lessons to heart?

It isn’t just the immediate consequences that we ought to consider but the aftershock, the thing that generations after us will feel; how about that?

Let me turn this around a little. Hebrews 13:7 calls us to, “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” There is so much pain to be avoided, so many mistakes we can bypass, so many good things we can have going on in our lives (and blessings to hand to the next generation) if only we would intentionally consider the outcomes of those who, in some way, are leading the way.

I have leaders in my life I watch. Some of them have official positions of leadership; others are leading and probably don’t even know it. Some people are leaders in “categories” that interest me (like acceptance, compassion, conviction, creativity, relationships, parenting, resourcefulness, youthful-optimism/curiosity); they are people who seem to have a grasp on a single thing that I am trying to understand; I watch them; I try to imitate so as to understand and own what I see. I have seen an outcome that I admire and I want that.

Right now, I am really challenged by someone in my life who has this really pure outlook about people. While I might jump to assess and categorize, this person is just curious about them and is so free of judgment. The things I notice, they don’t really spend any time on; I am convicted.  Why are they like that? I want that.

I am also challenged by someone who has been a leader in the faith for well over 30 years now and isn’t moaning, curled up in a ball. Quite the opposite. He still has vision and passion and conviction; he still “sees it” and is still living it and moving through it. What has given him such staying power? I want that.

I want a certain outcome; as much as some people’s lives stand out as a warning, I am turning to see those whose lives point to a better way.  I am going to make lots of mistakes, even as I have a desired outcome, I just don’t want to wreck the whole thing by mindless living.

To consider something is to think about it, with the intention of taking some action. When we consider the lives of those who are leading, when we think of qualities we want to imitate and grow in, it means watching and then it means taking initiative; we don’t wait for someone to do it for us or plan a program around it. We become like the persistent neighbor in Scripture, going after the outcome we want and not giving up right away:

“Imagine what would happen if you went to a friend in the middle of the night and said, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread. An old friend traveling through just showed up, and I don’t have a thing on hand.’ The friend answers from his bed, ‘Don’t bother me. The door’s locked; my children are all down for the night; I can’t get up to give you anything.’ But let me tell you, even if he won’t get up because he’s a friend, if you stand your ground, knocking and waking all the neighbors, he’ll finally get up and get you whatever you need. Here’s what I’m saying: Ask and you’ll get; Seek and you’ll find; Knock and the door will open.” (from The Message, a paraphrase of Luke 11:5-9)

— Teresa Klassen

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