One of the difficult things pastors are sometimes called on to do is officiate the funeral of a family member. These are not easy to do, especially if the pastor was close to the family member.
Recently, my uncle passed away, and I had the honor of officiating his funeral. In my high school years, I spent many Saturdays working for him at his house doing landscaping and odds and ends jobs. The joke in our family was that he could be demanding and very particular about certain things.
It was not uncommon at all for me to plant a tree or shrub at his house only to have to dig it up and move it a few inches or turn it a quarter turn. We joke about that, but honestly I don’t remember the particular trees I planted or all the other things he had me do around the house.
What I do remember is how he invested in me. On those Saturdays, as lunch time came along, he would give me a $20 dollar bill and tell me to go to this hamburger place near their house and buy two double-meat cheeseburgers and two large fries. I’d bring them back and we would sit in the garage and talk. He would impart to me his wisdom and experience from everything to handling finances well, being responsible, family, politics, you name it.
I didn’t fully realize it then, but my uncle was intentionally filling in on some things I was missing from not having my father at home. He was a generous and caring man to me his whole life. I had dress clothes to wear on Sundays when I first became a pastor because of the hand-me-downs my uncle would give me. He and my aunt always gave great gifts and were present at my wedding and graduations.
As I thought through what to say at my uncle’s funeral, what struck me most was his investment in my life and how that investment would bear fruit long after his passing away. I can think of many things he taught me that I try to live out in my life and have imparted to my own children.
What my uncle did for me, he did for my other cousins as well. We all told stories at our family gathering before his funeral of the investment he made in each of our lives. My uncle was a very successful businessman, but the lesson of his life is clear. Material things last only so long, but what you invest in others can carry on long after your time on earth is done.
As followers of Christ, we live for what is eternal. We want to invest our lives in eternal things. We are not merely living for what we can see, taste, touch or spend. An important way we accomplish that is to invest in others. I hope you will pause and consider the people you can invest in today. Who can you encourage, disciple, mentor, spend time with, or help in tangible and non-tangible ways?
I am mindful of Prov. 27:17, “Iron sharpens iron as one man sharpens another,” as well as 1 John 3:18, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” In our churches, homes, schools and places of business there is great need to invest in the lives of others as we point them to faithfulness in Christ.
It’s a joy to serve.