Jon Hauser: Offering your best
FARGO — On Sunday, Oct. 22, we started a discussion on overcoming discouragement. Discouragement hides out in our heart like a dormant virus. When given a slight opening, it springs forth, quickly escalating. I presented a new idea: One of the reasons we feel discouraged is because we confuse "being the best," "doing your best" and "offering your best."
We all carry some belief about "best" into our adult life. The challenge is that the two most common beliefs, "being the best" and "doing your best," have serious dark sides that ultimately lead to discouragement. We all have limiting factors, in and out of our control, and circumstances can quickly change. We all experience seasons of life and we must adapt or we will fail in living out our values. As I recently cared for my aging mom, I lived out my values as I helped her finish her race well, but I fell short of "best" in several areas of my life during that time. Fifteen years ago, I was unaware of the need to adapt to a "season of life." So, as I focused on "best" in one area of my life, I let down my wife and son.
We cannot dismiss all beliefs regarding "best," so I propose another option: develop the habit of "offering our best." Pastor and leadership guru Andy Stanley says, "The job of a leader isn't to fill everyone's bucket but to make sure and empty yours each day." I define "offering your best" as emptying your bucket each day.
In Philippians Chapter 2, verses 25 through 30, we read 148 words about a man named Epaphroditus. In terms of being famous he does not make the cut, but Paul calls him a hero. I believe Paul did so because Epaphroditus consistently offered his best by making four critical decisions.
He valued people. Paul was in a dingy, dirty jail in Rome chained to a guard because of his faith in Christ, and the Philippian Church sent Epaphroditus to encourage and provide care for Paul. Epaphroditus got very sick and almost died. Paul wrote, "He longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill." Even during sickness, Epaphroditus's biggest concern was for people. Offering your best only happens when you really care about people. How much do you truly care about people? What do you value more than people?
He took risks. Paul called him a soldier, risking his life, running from Philippi to Rome. We must take risks and live a life with no regrets in order to offer our best.
He was a tireless worker, which led to his sickness. Offering our best demands a deep work ethic.
He was a servant leader. Paul called him a caregiver and a messenger; both important servant roles. He was a pioneer, willing to do the work no one else would do. There is no leadership other than servant leadership. You cannot separate the call to lead from the call to serve others.
What would the next 30 days look like if you daily committed to offering your best to your family, customers, boss, co-workers, church and friends?
Jon Hauser is founding and senior pastor, Prairie Heights of Fargo Moorhead. Email firstname.lastname@example.org