So much to learn
“THE LOVE OF THE LORD IS THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM” Psalm 111:10
What a privilege to share with you some thoughts from the desk of the Ann Arbor District Superintendent. In July I will begin my third year at this desk and my 30th year in ministry. I can tell you that my experiences, adventures, challenges and opportunities have been awesome! Given this chance to reflect I would like to share with you just some of the “wisdom” I hope will always be a part of my ministry and life. Growing up, life experiences, sharing my pastoral ministry at the Hartland United Methodist Church, Trenton Faith United Methodist Church and now as District Superintendant, here are some of the things I’ve learned from God, my parents, parishioners, my dog Zucker and all of you…
- I learned I like folks who cry when they sing “Silent Night”. (age 6)
- I learned you can’t hide a piece of Liver in a glass of milk. (I hate liver) (age 9)
- I’ve learned that if you want to cheer yourself up, you should try cheering someone else up. So when loved ones come home, always run to greet them. (age 15)
- I learned that Jesus is the Lord of my life. (age 18)
- I learned that kindness is a gift that must be returned. (age 23)
- I learned not to drink downstream from the herd. (age 27)
- I learned I’m a slow learner. (27)
- I learned, although it’s hard to admit it, I’m secretly glad my parents were strict, loving parents with me. I told you I’m a slow learner. (age 30)
- I’ve learned that if someone says something unkind about me, I must live so that no one will believe it. (age 35)
- I learned to let a point pass that calls for challenge is to be politely dishonest. (age 38)
- I learned a dog can’t go anywhere if he’s always stopping to scratch his fleas.
- I learned that singing “Amazing Grace” can lift my spirits for hours. (age 40)
- I’ve learned you can tell a lot about a person by the way they handle three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. (age 43)
- I learned that with God there is ALWAYS a second chance. (age 47)
- I learned that when I decide something with kindness and prayer, I usually make the right decision. Avoid biting when a simple growl will do. (age 48)
- I learned God’s forgiveness is more than a blessing; it’s a challenge.
- I learned not to squat with my spurs on (ouch!) My ability to learn increased greatly. (age 49)
- I’ve learned it is always more important to be loving than to always be right. (age 50)
- I’ve learned that everyone can use prayer. (I guess I have always known this, but now I believe it!) I’ve learned prayer makes a difference! (age 51)
- I’ve learned that even though I have pains, I don’t need to be one. Take naps. (age 52)
- I’ve learned to really listen, not just hear, but really listen. (age 53)
- I learned from my Dog Zucker that when someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.
- I’ve learned I do not know what the future holds, but I know who holds the future!
- Zucker taught me if what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
- I’ve learned that when someone says they need a minute of my time, I’d better allocate the real time that will be needed. (age 54)
There comes a time in life, when you walk away from all the drama and those who create it. You surround yourself with those who make you laugh, forget the bad, and focus on the blessings. So, love the folks who treat you well and pray for those who don’t. Life is too short to be anything but faithful to a loving God. It’s not how we start, but rather how we finish that really matters. Falling down is part of life…getting back up is living!
The only difference between the wise and the not-so-wise is that the wise know enough to know that they don’t know, and they seek God’s counsel. I pray for that wisdom each and every day.
By the Grace of God, I’m learning that I have so much more to learn.
What a joy to be in the service of our Lord. What a privilege to serve as a District Superintendent working and serving with outstanding Clergy and Laity seeking to make Disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. “The love of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”… the beginning and not the end. As we move toward the empty tomb and the joy of Easter, may we have the “wisdom” not to think we know so much that God, or even Zucker can’t teach us more. Have a blessed Easter!
Rev. Mark E. Spaw
District Superintendant of the Ann Arbor District