Do you ever compare your gifts and talents to someone else and believe the lie that you are not qualified or equipped to serve God? I know that I have many times. The voice of failure and comparison intimidates most of us. I’m so thankful to have my friend Lincee Ray on the Redeemed Girl Blog today. While most of us know her from her hilarious Bachelor Recap Blog (I Hate Green Beans), she’s also a woman of incredible wisdom and fiercely loves Jesus. – Marian Jordan Ellis
Carnegie Mellon is a private global research university in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is known to produce cutting edge technologies, innovative start-ups, Nobel Peace prize winners, and a ton of robots.
With lots of smart people running around, each year the university hosts what they call the “Journey Series” and students are invited to hear a noted professor of CMU to give his or her hypothetical “last lecture.” It’s typically an hour long and full of wisdom that the professor wants to leave behind.
Randy Pausch was invited to give the last lecture in 2007. The shocking part of his story is that one month before he was slated to speak, he found out he had terminal cancer. Hypothetical was suddenly very real as the campus learned this would literally be his last lecture.
As you can imagine, the lecture was a huge success. Randy’s talk and personal story went viral. He was invited to be on Oprah Winfrey’s show and she gave him the floor to speak — uninterrupted. The only hiccup was that he had to narrow down his outline.
Here are the life lessons Randy chose to focus on when he had to cut a sixty minute talk to only ten minutes:
- Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you wanted.
- Rejection letters can be inspirational.
- Brick walls aren’t there to hinder us. They are there to show how much we want it.
- Decide if you are a Tigger or and Eeyore.
- Work and play well with others.
- Tell the truth.
- Apologize properly.
- Show gratitude.
- Don’t whine or complain.
Randy later admitted that the outline for giving his own last lecture took a different turn when he learned about his cancer. He knew the series was going to be recorded, so he crafted his talk for three people — his children. He said he knew he had a virtual message in a bottle and he didn’t want to waste it on things that didn’t matter.
There’s a person in the Bible whose own story parallels Randy’s story. The book of 2 Timothy is the apostle Paul’s last lecture. He knows he’s about die and he leaves a message in a bottle for his beloved Timothy. Unlike Randy, Paul isn’t writing life lessons from the comfort of his home or office. Paul is writing these impactful words from prison.
He’s in a dark, damp dungeon, probably under the streets of Rome. He’s chained to a guard and can’t move about freely. What’s worse is that he knows he’s about to be executed. So he asks for some parchment and a quill in order to write a personal letter to Timothy.
I can imagine the anguish Paul must have experienced. How do you say good-bye to your dearest friend in the world? How do you guide the person who will be taking over your legacy with only a single sheet of notebook paper?
Paul knows that Timothy is strong in his faith and has an amazing ability to create disciples. He also knows that Timothy struggles with speaking confidently. He wisely counsels his young friend that spreading the Gospel is what we are all called to do. How Paul advances the kingdom is going to look differently from how Paul advances the kingdom.
What a gift. Did you catch it? Do you see the freedom Paul gave Timothy?
Think of it this way: Paul is the poster child for living a faith-based life that points to Jesus. The guy is famous for being one of the greatest in all Scripture and Timothy is the one who will be taking his place. If it were me, my immediate reaction would be to hard pass that opportunity.
Thanks, but no thanks, Paul. There’s no way I can fill your shoes.
The reaction makes sense, right? But Paul anticipates that Timothy’s insecurities will take him to an overwhelmed place. He assures Timothy that there’s no need to feel frustrated, intimidated, or scared. “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and a sound mind.” — 2 Timothy 1:7
It’s as if Paul is telling Timothy, “You do you, kid. Don’t make it harder than it is. I believe in you.”
Doesn’t this reality make you exhale a little bit? The way I do ministry may not look like the way you do ministry. And that’s okay. We need to be bold and confident and grounded in truth, of course, but we also need to be ourselves. We each have unique gifts that can be used to glorify God every single day. What are we waiting for?
I think if Paul had ten minutes on Oprah Winfrey’s show to give his last lecture, he probably would have shared this:
— Know the word.
— Tell everyone.
— Keep it simple.
— Be bold.
— Suffer well.
— Fulfill my ministry.
If you knew you had months to live like Paul and Randy, what would you do? Where would you go? Who would you visit?
That’s a loaded question. That’s also a scary question.
I would probably go on a road trip and visit everyone I know to tell them I love them. I would thank them for being in my life and contributing to the person I am today.
On the other hand, there are so many lost people in my life that need to know about Jesus. I think I would feel desperate to share the good news. And it wouldn’t be weird because I’m dying. Who cares at this point?
But there’s also that small group of people who I should forgive. I don’t want to go to my grave with a hardened heart toward someone. I’m sure everything inside of me would be screaming to make peace.
Take a minute to honestly think about your life. If you had to boil it down to the bare minimum, your ten minute speech to Oprah, what kind of legacy would you want to leave behind?
Is it to love others well?
Is it to tell others about the hope of Jesus?
Is it to extend grace to those who have wronged you?
Is it to leave a legacy built on foundational truths?
If Paul and Randy were standing here right now, I guarantee you they would ask, “What are you waiting for?”
Three months? Three years? Three decades?
What are you waiting for?
The time is now.
You be you, kid. Be bold. Now go and advance the kingdom.
Lincee Ray is an accidental blogging superstar from Texas who now writes for EW.com and the Associated Press. An active speaker, she can be found at her popular website www.ihategreenbeans.com, where she makes it clear that she believes it’s important to tell your story—even if it makes you seem a little crazy. Be sure to check out her latest book, Why I Hate Green Beans – available now on Amazon!
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