What Gives You Wings
What Gives You Wings
What energizes you? What gets you out of the bed in the morning? What keeps you going all day? What keeps you moving forward in life? As a certain energy drink company would ask the question, what gives you wings?
There are lots of things we rely on to keep going in life. As the Bible phrases it, these are things we “boast” in. Things that keep us motivated and moving. Here are a few common ones.
Our appearance gives us wings.
When we first planted Harbor Church, I gained 20 pounds in six months. When I realized it, I felt terrible about myself. I lost motivation and drive. Until I went on a diet and lost 20 pounds. Then I felt great about myself again. I was energized every time I looked in the mirror, so I would find every mirror I could. I would walk by as many windows as possible, and slyly peek at my reflection. Those good feelings lasted until I gained 15 pounds back again and got gray hair.
I can’t do much with my appearance anymore, so now I’m driven by my kids’ appearance. My oldest son Caleb has planned to be a pilot since he was 5 years old. He’s a junior now, and he’s already done an internship at Island Air. He’s already got a college picked out with a great aviation program. He’s already investigating scholarships. When people hear about that, they say, “Wow, he’s just a junior? And he knows exactly what he wants to do in life? And he’s taken all these steps to achieve his goals? That’s amazing!”
I say, “Yes, it is.” And inside I’m saying, “Amazing parenting. That’s what it is.” Because my kids are an extension of me! Their appearance and success becomes my own appearance and success. And I like to boast in my appearance.
Our comfort gives us wings.
For many of us, as long as life stays comfortable, we can keep going. As long as things stay copacetic, we can keep moving. Kind of like the Swedes. Much of my family came from Sweden, and Swedish people have a concept they call lagom (pronounced “law-gum”). It means “just right.” Not too much, not too little, just right. That’s what Swedish people pursue in life. The middle road.
Nobody in Sweden drinks dark-roast coffee, and nobody drinks light-roast coffee. Everybody drinks medium-roast coffee. Just right.
Nobody in Sweden drinks skim milk, and nobody drinks whole milk. Everybody drinks 2%. And guess what they call it? Medium milk! Ahhhh … medium. That’s just right. How would you like your steak done, sir? Medium. Where do you want me to set the thermostat, honey? Medium. That’s Swedish people, and that’s their goal in life: always keep it set at medium. Never get too excited about anything, and never get too salty about anything. Always stay just right.
And I’ve realized that’s the way I am. I don’t want life to get too hot. I don’t want it to get too cold. I always want to be just right. As long as life is lagom, I can keep going. But as soon as life takes a left turn, I’m frozen like a deer in the headlights. I like to boast in my comfort.
Our status gives us wings.
We always want to figure out where we stand in comparison to other people. We love to climb the corporate ladder so we don’t have to do the things we used to have do. That’s what keeps us going in life. And when we’re forced to do something that’s beneath us, we panic.
I saw this in myself at the ripe old age of 23. I had just become a youth pastor, and I felt like I had arrived. I had a title: “Pastor Matt.” And I threw that title around. One day at staff meeting, I heard that the janitor was upset that I wasn’t emptying the trash cans in the youth room. I can’t believe I said this out loud, but I said, “Well, I am a pastor. I’ve got the ministry of prayer and the Word. I can’t be waiting tables. I don’t have time to be emptying trash cans.” Crazy but true.
Well, the janitor heard about that. An 80-year-old guy who’d been working at the church for 40 years. The next morning, he walked straight into my office, and he closed the door. Scary. Then he said very quietly (which made it even more scary), “Son, you might be a pastor, but you’re still a little punk.” Then he opened the door, and he walked out. And I went and emptied the trash cans in the youth room. And every trash can I could find in the zip code. I quickly realized I was boasting in my status.
What do you boast in?
Many people would say, “That’s terrible. All that kind of boasting is terrible. We just shouldn’t boast about anything.” But God knows we’ll always be boasting about something. There will always be something that drives us. The only question is what that thing is.
That’s why God says in Jeremiah, “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches (in other words, don’t let those things be the things that keep you going in life), but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24).
Let the one who boasts, boast in the fact that he knows me and my love. Let him boast in my justice, my righteousness, and my delight. We’re always going to boast about something. The only question is what we boast about. That’s why Paul says, “Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14).
The cross gives me wings.
The cross gives me wings, no matter what my appearance, comfort, or status are like.