I’m at a point where I am looking back at 20 years in ministry and looking forward at maybe another 25 years and I am asking myself where do I want to be in 2037? Even writing that date seems ridiculous, as thinking about 2012 must have to my Dad when he started Fusion in 1960.
I loved seeing my son Daniel receive his Foundations certificate on Friday. He had done the course for the first time, along with Maddi and Josh and the week had a real impact on them all. Maddi even taught her first unit.
It was a strange feeling for me, sitting up the back and just enjoying the looks on peoples faces at the end of a very busy week, given that I was not involved at all. As I saw the big group huddle together, I thought to myself “Well done Dad.” Dad wrote the first incarnation of the course in 1963 and in 2012 it was still changing peoples lives. Many of them didn’t even know who he was, and yet their lives will be different because of his work.
I came across a Chinese proverb that says:
One generation plants the trees; another gets the shade.
I think many people are benefiting from the shade of the trees planted by my father over the last 50 years.
Someone once told my brother that it takes a “force of nature” to found an organisation of any note, and in many ways that label fits Dad well. He knew what God was asking of him and held on, affecting the lives of thousands and thousands of people.
It is interesting watching Fusion try to move on from the leadership he provided. It certainly hasn’t been an easy journey. I wonder whether the strength of character it takes to be a founder, also means that people don’t know how to relate to you as a person when you no longer have a role in a structure that they can position you in.
I’m reading the book of Job at the moment and was hit this morning at how frustrated Job was with his friends:
“When desperate people give up on God Almighty, their friends, at least, should stick with them. But my brothers are fickle as a gulch in the desert— one day they’re gushing with water From melting ice and snow cascading out of the mountains, But by midsummer they’re dry, gullies baked dry in the sun. Travelers who spot them and go out of their way for a drink end up in a waterless gulch and die of thirst. Merchant caravans from Tema see them and expect water, tourists from Sheba hope for a cool drink. They arrive so confident—but what a disappointment! They get there, and their faces fall! And you, my so-called friends, are no better— there’s nothing to you! One look at a hard scene and you shrink in fear. It’s not as though I asked you for anything— I didn’t ask you for one red cent—Nor did I beg you to go out on a limb for me. So why all this dodging and shuffling? (Job 6:14-23)
I imagine my Dad has felt a little like Job over the past couple of years as many people who related to him in a role don’t seem to know how to connect now.
I’ve found the way relationships change so suddenly a bit disturbing and it raised a lot of questions for me about what counts in the long run.
I think as I saw the group of people who did Foundations and also heard from the students of Fusion’s diploma course, the answer became clearer. What matters is not actually how people feel about you, but how they experience God’s Kingdom as a result of your action.
There is a passage about legacy that I am often reminded about in 1 Corinthians 3:11-15:
For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.
So much of what my Dad has done in his more than fifty years of ministry falls into the category of gold, silver or costly stones, and as a result thousands of people continue to experience God’s Kingdom in ways they simply would not have had he not been faithful.
As I look back at the last 20 years I can see that I have made lots of mistakes, but the things of which I am most proud are actually the people I have helped on their own journeys. Many of them are no longer in Fusion but are continuing to make a difference all over the world. I know I have made lots of mistakes, and in the process have hurt lots of people, but I am pleased we are not judged simply by the way we make others feel, but by the times we have held on to what was right.
As I look forward to the next 25 years, I know I want them to count. Wood, hay and straw are cheap but its the gold, silver and costly stones that matter.