My family’s schedule was impacted this week by the death of my mother-in-law. You can insert all of the standard mother-in-law jokes here if you want to. But, none of them were true in our case. My wife’s mother was an incredible woman. And I loved her dearly.
It is at times like these that we pause and look at a life well lived. And it is altogether fitting that we do so. Mom led a life that by all measures was well-lived. For a skinny girl with glasses that preferred books to boys, she had an incredible life and an incredible impact on so many.
But, merely reading her obituary does not really give you the true sense of the impact that she had on the lives of her family, her church, and her friends. She was an amazing woman. I was blessed to know her for almost 43 years. She was an inspiration to multiple generations who knew her as “Mom”, Aunt Jo Ann, “Grandmama”, and “Greatmama”, except that title was already taken by another extraordinary woman that is walking the streets of Glory today as well, so she just became Grandmama to a new generation.
Is there a leadership angle here?
This is just an observation on my part. But, it seems that we are willing to be inspired by Jo Ann and folks like her. But, are we willing to be instructed and to do the work in our own lives to have these virtues and values instilled in ourselves?
A little personal privilege as the founder of LeadershipVoices
I spoke briefly at the funeral yesterday morning. And the funeral was much more of a “Celebration” than your standard funeral. Jo Ann was a devoted Christian and the family gathered to celebrate her “homegoing” rather than focusing on our sense of loss and grief.
I asked the folks at the service yesterday morning to consider with me for just a moment, two verses from the New Testament that have been on my mind for the past few days as I have reflected on the last 43 years that I have been around my mother-in-law and this family in one way or another.
Take a look also at Hebrews 13:7 where it says:
Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.
The Apostle Paul says “Remember” — so as to imitate: not just talk about or be inspired by. Considering is a little bit passive while imitating is clearly more active.
From a church history perspective, we know that this Epistle was among those written later when many of the heads of the 1st Century Church had passed away.
So we are asked to “remember” — Remember their actions, their praying, their private counsel, their very example.
We are also asked to “consider” — In the ancient Greek, text that meant “looking up to,” or “diligently contemplating all over,” such as an artist would look at a model that he was painting or sculpting. It means to study intently to see what can be learned from that active form of observation.
And we are told to “imitate” — Follow their faith; be steadfast in the same pursuits as those that have gone before you. Do what they do. And, Heaven forbid that we should try doing it the way that they did it. We always seem to think we have to be innovative when so often the tried and true methods work best. I have a wise friend who has been accused of being a little bit “old school” at times. His response is priceless. He says, “I may be old school, but at least I have a school!”
Jo Ann had a “school.” It was where many have been educated in the ways of being a lifelong follower of Jesus Christ, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a great-grandmother, and a friend.
Let’s look at one more verse of Scripture. Philippians 4:9 says:
Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
I think that verse is better rendered, not really with “or” but, “and”. In other words, you have seen and heard and received from me, AND you have seen me do those things time and time again.
In other words, the things which besides recommending them in words, have been also recommended by Paul’s example. So carry these on into your own life and practice.
But once you have moved beyond being instructed, —“and then,” as the necessary result you will have “peace” Philippians 4:7 says:
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Not only “the peace of God,” but “the God of peace” Himself “shall be with you.”
Application to Us Today
My mother-in-law, Jo Ann, not only experienced the “God of peace” with her in this life. She is now in the presence of the God of peace.
She has inspired me. She may have inspired you. But, that is not the issue. The issue is this, have you taken the things that have inspired you about her life (or anyone that has inspired you) and have you made them a part of your life. In other words, have you instilled those same values, virtues, and practices into your life so that you will be imitators of her life and an imitator of the God of Peace.
We are in the season of Peace on Earth right now. I trust that you will not only be inspired but that you will receive the instructions to imitate the kind of life that she led and that you will enjoy the Peace that she is experiencing right now.
What was instilled in us (my wife, Cathy, and me) we have instilled in our children. And we see that being instilled in our children’s children.
How about you? Are you merely “inspired”? Or have you been willing to be instructed and have those values instilled in your life as well?
She would want you to know that kind of Peace this morning.