This post is in honor of my friend of 39 years who recently had his prayer answered and made it to his home in heaven. I miss him deeply.
It was 1980. I was working two doors down from President McQuilkin directing Financial Aid and helping to begin what would become the Development Department. I was also a part time seminary student. So at the busiest season of the terms I would go home for dinner and then return for an evening of study and catching up on files and work in the office.
It was close to midnight and I was working away on financial aid files and listening to the newest music by Bob Dylan. Slow Train Coming (1979) and Saved (1980) were strong gospel albums that had Dylan booed off the stage at some of his concerts. I loved them!
( I still listen to them weekly as I exercise)
What I did not know at the time was that Robertson had come by the office also. Years later he told me that as he started down the dark hall and heard Dylan booming in the building he was all prepared to speak a word of correction to the custodial help. Instead it was one of his new hires; a young man he was sure loved Jesus. But how could he be listening to that rock and roll racket?
When I saw him stick his head in the doorway I immediately turned the volume down and explained that Bob Dylan was giving a clear testimony in his music. I asked him if he would like to borrow the albums and check it out. He said he would. So the next day I loaned them to him.
About a week later he returned the albums and I will never forget his words. “Well, you can’t read those lyrics and not believe Bob knows the Gospel thoroughly. It is just a shame that when God saved him he didn’t heal his voice.” And then he gave me his classic grin.
Robertson modeled for me a man willing to suspend a judgmental spirit and listen and learn even when what he encountered what was not part of his preferences or culture.
Lord, Help me to do the same.
What are your thoughts?
Do you have a humorous memory with Robertson? Comment below!
In Robertson’s writings and often in his speaking he would address how Christians speak about others. His thoughts seem even more relevant is a world where many feel entitled to say anything about anyone through social media.
I have consulted with multiple congregations in the past 10 years split into painful division because of e-mails being forwarded beyond the original intended author. I have a significant section of material on the Biblical teaching on conflict resolution in my book Life Giving Leadership if you want more assistance in handling the friction that will surely come living in this broken world.
Here I will just paraphrase the experience he shared from his early days as a missionary in Japan.
We were the new missionaries and the more experienced couple had come to dinner to welcome us. It turned into a painful evening of them “helping us” by pointing out failures and weaknesses of all of the other missionaries. They left that evening with a date for another dinner being set and I was not looking forward to another evening of roasting the coworkers we were just meeting.
Muriel assured me she would make sure the next evening’s conversation went differently. Our home had a large wall with no pictures on it. She made a small cross stitch and hung it on the wall. They arrived and noticed the new addition to our decor. The wife walked over, read it, and then called her husband over to read it. (Robertson paused like a good stand up comedian and then said), It was one the quietest dinners we had ever had.
Are the absent safe with you?
Personally I believe Facebook is for sharing photos of my grandbabies and maybe a few vacation photos but I seek to remember in this blog, and all of my online world, that Jesus is present and reading my posts. Social media is just a typed conversation — and the Bible has a great deal to say about how God’s children are to use words.
Bottom Line — if you have a problem with someone — go to them — face to face if possible (not your facebook) — or in as private conversation as possible.
Any subject causing your emotional heat to go UP or your trust in a person or organization to go DOWN — take your concern TO them not to the world online.
Robertson used to joke with me about my passionate interest in leadership. We talked for hours about many leadership subjects. Here is one jewel!
EFFECTIVE LEADERS SEEK SOLUTIONS AND NOT VICTORIES.
Robertson told stories to illustrate his axiom from his days of being president of CIU. Let me paraphrase what he shared. “I wanted the faculty and staff to be engaged and asking good hard questions. I wanted them to research what our position should be on various issues and I designed meetings and created task forces to open doors for their participation.
But there is a downside to all of this investment…. people can develop strong opinions and be passionate about winning for their side of an issue. As president, I saw my role to help us get to a sound solution not get into winning my own victories.”
So — in your marriage, with family and friends and coworkers — what is your goal VICTORIES or SOLUTIONS?
It was FALL 2012 — I was teaching a course at Columbia Int University entitled: Principles of the Christian Life: Ethics and Sanctification.
Robertson McQuilkin created this course during his presidency and his book on ethics and his book on the Holy Spirit came out of class handouts used with several generations of students. I had the privilege of being one of those students in 1978.
Now, 2012, I was asked to teach the course — a double honor. Robertson believed that ethics, what we should choose, and sanctification, walking in the power of the Spirit so we can choose well, needed to be together in one course. As far as I know CIU is the only school that frames the teaching of ethics in that way.
I invited Robertson to come as a guest to share how he practiced his daily love time with God and to answer questions from the students at a halfway point in the course. This 13 minute video is lifted from that class. Enjoy — and think about your alone time with the Grand Lover of your soul.
One of the ministries God has assigned to me for this chapter of my life is to coach congregational and non-profit ministry leaders. After a recent appointment I was reflecting on what I had contributed. I recalled what the person had validated as being very helpful. I wrote in my journal to remind me to work at getting better at offering effective coaching, “Be very careful to translate inspired intention into concrete action.”
It is so easy to get excited and enjoying being flush with new thoughts and energy that only spin in one’s head or verbally spew out to those around us but fails to answer the questions, “So what are the next 2 to 3 steps that you need to take?” and “When will you begin these actions?”
Change only occurs as we act on our intentions. Faith in the power of God’s Spirit requires we risk; step out.
What has God made clear and stirred up desire to see occur? What is you next action needed? WHEN will you begin?
ROBERTSON IS NOW AT HOME… WHAT A JOY HE MUST BE KNOWING THAT WE ONLY TASTE.
I miss my dear friend, mentor and leader.
I was listening to Robertson pray as we came to the end of our visit. In his prayer were words that sounded like they were paraphrased from the Bible but I couldn’t identify it specifically. As best as I can recall, and it is etched clearly in my memory because I heard him offer God the same prayer on several other visits, this is what he prayed.
“Lord, much of life is way too much for me to figure out. I don’t have very many answers; fewer now than I thought I had years ago. I have more questions than ever. But, I do know you and I trust you. I trust you and you are more than enough.” His prayer continued as he prayed specifically for me and my family.
I will miss those prayers. Do people who pledge to pray for us every day, and keep that promise for many years, continue to pray for us when they arrive in heaven before us?
After my friend closed his prayer that day I confessed my biblical illiteracy and asked him where the passage was that was expressed in his prayer. He told me it was from Psalm 131.
That day Psalm 131 became a treasure for me. Here it is in the Amplified translation.
1 LORD, MY heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty; neither do I exercise myself in matters too great or in things too wonderful for me. 2 Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with his mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me [ceased from fretting]. 3 O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever.
A few of the encouragements from this song are:
King David is the author of the prayer and extends an invitation to his people in verse 3 to join him in anchoring a frayed anxious heart in confidence in their God. Here is a great king confessing, before God and his people, that he has humbled his heart and knows that he does not have all of the answers or the power to solve all of the problems. This is not the image of a strong confident leader often held up as the model of leadership. I wonder if God defines leadership different from most cultural definitions?
This king has to have a talk with himself and tell his soul to chill out; stop being anxious. As a parent I know the difference between the nursing child and the weaned child. To hold that nursing infant in my arms and softly tell her, “Mom is just taking a shower. She will be out in just a few minutes. I promise she will feed you and we will not let you starve.” The babe totally ignores me and screams as though we are the worst parents in the world and care nothing for her nourishment.
Oh, but the weaned child is a different story. “Daughter, Mom is going to fix lunch soon. Just let me read you this book and as soon as she returns from the store it is peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for all of us. YEAH!” And the child, in anticipation, says, “I am so hungry can I have apple sauce too.” And we return to our book and our waiting.
It seems that most of my Christian life has been spent waiting on God. I live in the waiting room while waiting for answers, waiting for blessings, waiting for judgment on the unrighteous, waiting on Jesus to return…. Waiting. And often my heart does get overwhelmed with how the world is running or not running according to my thoughts. But this song reminds me I do not sit in the waiting room alone. So King David’s words fuel my hope.
It is OK to need to take one’s heart aside and have a serious chat. And it is OK to need to have others around me, like this King was to his people, calling me to keep trusting our great God we cannot understand and who refuses to follow my time table.
Trust the Lord from this moment on.
Trust the Lord in all of the moments he gives me.
Trust the Lord knowing life is too much for me to handle but not to much for our God.
It is a sweet memory; Robertson showing me a well worn photo album he would pray through daily and my picture with my family was stuck behind the plastic on one of the pages. Who has God led me to stand with in prayer for daily? Yes, my children, their spouses and my grandchildren and of course my wife. But who else? Who do I pledge to stand as an intercessor for because God has led us together? Who do I pray Psalm 131 and many other prayers over their life and service?