compassion

Compassion

As my son has turned 18 and now faces the prospects of graduating high school and navigating “the real world”, I am forced to re-evaluate many things. We live in a different time than when I was 18 and my firstborn and I are different people.

For unjustifiable reasons, at 18 I was arrogant, over-confident and dismissive of people that I considered to be “lower” than me. I had supportive parents, a fairly easy life and was blessed with academic talent (blessed by God though I didn’t give Him credit at the time). The job market when I graduated college in 1990 was brisk for a young engineer and I had my pick of job offers.

This did nothing to humble me.

My arrogance caused me to over-extend economically in failed business ventures that finally provided the humbling I most desperately needed. Only then did I gain a degree of economic compassion because I found myself in a dark place financially. Never before had I felt the shame of not being able to provide well for my family or the need to “work hard”. No, I mean, really hard. I found myself joining a janitorial crew for overnight cleanings of church buildings for a season.

I was glad to have the $10/hour.

Humility

Now, that God has restored me financially, it is so easy to forget those times. It is so easy to become dismissive again. It is so easy to remember my best times, and forget the worst. Easier still to compare my best times to another who may be down on their luck.

As my son and my daughter one year behind him graduate high school the job market sucks. Say what you want (this isn’t political), but the days of multiple offers for a BS degree in most academic majors are over. It may take longer and be harder for my kids to get where I am. I hate that and there is little, other than trusting God to take care of them, that I can do about it.

But I am thankful for yet another reminder that renews economic compassion. This comes on the heels of renewed spiritual compassion for those with different views. Sure, it’s easier to have when you don’t have to deal directly with argumentative people on a regular basis. But, I didn’t even want compassion in the past. I was right and, if you didn’t agree….

Peter advised his readers to be clothed with humility (1 Peter 5:5) meaning, in modern terms, “don’t be an asshat” (McKinney New American Translation). Humility is a gift that allows you to love others. How can you love someone when you consider them to be beneath you? We all can find segments of our life that we believe to be superior morally, financially, intellectually, or physically. There’s always something you can lean on to feel “one up” over someone else.

But there is always something they have that you don’t, regardless of appearance.

God wants His ambassadors in the earth to radiate His love. He doesn’t want or need a pack of arrogant pontificators.

Lord – may You continue to increase my capacity, so limited, to do this effectively. May You give me eyes to see those who I’ve dismissed. May You forgive me for my arrogance.

Ultimately my son’s future, my daughter’s, my wife’s, my friends’, my employers’ are all in His hands. Control is just an illusion. Even when you seem to be on top, it is fleeting. And if you’re not? Those times pass. Have faith.

Trust in Him regardless.

Amen.

Jeff McKinney
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Jeff McKinney

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Jeff McKinney
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