On the nightstand by my bedside I have a little note a friend wrote me several years ago. Bob had just completed a weekend retreat called “Walk to Emmaus.” He was letting me know how much our friendship and the weekend had meant to him. This note is significant for a number of reasons.
I was going through one of the darkest seasons of my life. Uncertainty, anger, fear and anxiety surrounded me. My entire life was in upheaval. Bob’s note came to me as a glimmering, hopeful light.
Even more significant is that it was the inception of a friendship that carries to this day. Bob was a recent convert to following Jesus when he gave me that note. Years later, he has become one of the men I most admire. His humility is second to none. He has a passion and deep heart for the marginalized in society. He is quick to give the benefit of the doubt and even when it’s not deserved, he still extends radical acceptance and insane generosity to those around him.
What I love most about Bob is his self-control. He is one of the most disciplined men I know and this encourages me to pursue that quality in my own life. In his speech and actions, Bob doesn’t always feel the need to act on impulse. That serves him well on so many fronts. It’s as though he instinctively lives out the biblical imperative to “…think clearly and exercise self-control.” (1 Peter 1.13)
If I had to put one thing to give attention to in my quest to be more like Jesus, it would be to pursue a greater sense of personal discipline. I don’t always need to speak the first words on my mind. I don’t need to act on my initial impulse in a given situation. Letting an idea incubate before responding is often a good idea.
With the advent of social media and the immediate access we have to people’s most current activity and thoughts, self-control is more important than ever. We can respond and post our real-time actions and opinions as they occur. I wonder what that would look like seasoned with a dose of self-control.
Think about this: how would giving more thought to your words and actions affect the relationships you have with the people around you? A paraphrase of an old Jewish proverb states:
“A sterling reputation is better than striking it rich; a gracious spirit is better than money in the bank.” Proverbs 22.1 (MSG)
I don’t know of one person who has a bad word to speak about Bob. We could all do infinitely worse than to look to him as a role model.
So, whatever you’re thinking now, whatever you’re wanting to do in this moment…take a second and ask a simple question:
What about Bob?