“What are you a stand for?”
This question came up frequently during my training as a leadership coach nearly ten years ago. My classmates and I were asked to reflect on who we are and what we are committed to bringing into the world as coaches. We were encouraged to adopt a comfortable, yet strong, solid standing posture as we delivered our answers. You can probably imagine some of the themes that typically arise in an exercise like this. When you ask a group of helping professionals what they want to bring into the world, you get something like this:
“I am a stand for love.”
“I am a stand for courage.”
“I am a stand for inclusion.”
This question came up again the other day in a different setting, so I asked myself anew: “What am I a stand for? What am I committed to bringing into the world?” My answer was swift and sure: “I am a stand for possibility.” I am an optimist who loves questions that start with, “What if we could” I believe in the endless capacity we each have for learning and growth. I believe in the very best that is possible in all of us even as we grapple with the darkness and light we all contain as humans. And, yes, I am also committed to bringing more love, courage and inclusion into the world, too. That’s the type of world I want to live in and the type of world I want to leave behind for the kids who will inherit this world from us.
That said, I’ll admit it is easy to get discouraged by the tenor and tactics being used in the world today. It is sad and shocking when attempts are made to resolve simple disappointments and conflicts through violence. Each new event has the power to create a wider divide in our communities. Civil, solution-oriented discourse also seems to be a rarity in the political arena. Headlines and “gotcha” stories crowd our news feeds. Is it any wonder that YouTube is full of cute kitten videos to fill our down time with and Uber now delivers puppies to hug? Love is a powerful antidote to all of the hatred and fear that seems to be getting so much airtime.
Rev. Tom Berlin, lead pastor at Floris UMC, recently encouraged us to read one of the Gospels with fresh eyes, paying special attention to the red or underlined text that highlights Jesus’ words. I chose to read the Gospel of Luke for this exercise. It challenged me but also reassured me as I took in the themes of Jesus’ understanding of our weaknesses and our trials. As I thought of the state of the world, a passage jumped out at me:
“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say? As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built.” – Luke 6:45-48
This passage speaks to me of hope and possibility, friends. Jesus told us long ago that an unshakable foundation is possible if we will just take his words to heart and live them out. Love, courage, inclusion, possibilityI am imagining each as a cornerstone in the house Jesus speaks of. What about you? What are your cornerstones? What are you a stand for?