(Guest writer this week is my husband, Mike Reed, a retired United Methodist pastor.)
I have chosen the word "theme" in the title, but would agree that "mission," "purpose," or perhaps "goal," would also work as well. I suggest that everyone's life has a theme of some sort and that as we live out our lives, we live out that theme in various ways.
This idea came to me a number of years ago when I reflected on the words of my good friend, Greg McGarvey, a fellow pastor who maintains that all preachers have a theme that they come back to in different ways through their sermons. One parishioner, upon hearing Greg say that responded, "Yours is 'Get off your seat and do something.'" Greg said that he laughed and told the man he was right, not only about his preaching, but in how he lived.
That experience set me to thinking about the themes of my life and preaching and it did not take me long to identify. My theme comes from Genesis 12:1-3: "Now the Lord said to Abram, 'Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you shall all the families of the earth shall be blessed.'"
I summarize my theme by saying that we are blessed to be a blessing as God blesses us, so we can bless others. Our whole reason for being here, both as individuals and as communities of faith involves blessing others. Some may put this a bit differently, but with the same intent. "We should leave the earth and its people in better shape than we found them during our time here."
In my present position at the local Y.M.C.A., I work in the hospitality area where we welcome people and check them into the facility, as well as washing and folding towels for our guests to use while there. Often, when two of us are working and when we have both washers and dryers running with towels folded, I will take a cart to collect dirty towels from a couple of locker rooms.
A few weeks ago as I was making my rounds, the high school age custodian who usually collects the towels saw me loading the cart. He said, "You make working here easier." I thanked him while laughing to myself and saying, "You caught me - caught me trying to be a blessing in a small way."
Being a blessing to bless others constitutes my Life Theme. I would urge you, if you have not done so, to consider the theme of your life. Begin by asking yourself what you are doing or could do to make a difference.
Evaluate what talents and gifts you have.
Pray for discernment to know what God wants you to do, as well as the kind of person God wants you to be.
Test what you observe about yourself in your words and actions.
Then, write your life theme some where you will see it on a regular basis. By living out your life theme, you will be following God's call in your life.