Peace is one of our core value words. With Love. Faith. Community. Joy. Grace. I’m choosing to use the phrase “core values” for this week’s reflection; you might use moral compass, Truth, mission, or something else. Unity came to the forefront as a keystone word this past week. What are the words that hold your core values? (PAUSE TO REFLECT; perhaps write them down)
Jesus was walking by the sea of Galilee when he saw Simon and his brother Andrew at work casting nets in the lake; for they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.
Going a little father, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat mending their nets. At once he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
We are either given a nugget of a story or the entire story in simple terms. Perhaps, Jesus comes (literally) to the shore and the men see him and drop everything to follow. Perhaps, they have listened to him teach or sat with him before and learned that he is a man they would choose to follow. I don’t think we need to debate this question, I think the point is to find a story of Jesus that we choose to be worth following.
Follow me. Come, follow me. Comforting words. Come be a part of something. Come be loved by me.
Why would these men choose to leave behind all that is safe and familiar to follow this man into the unknown? Was it Jesus himself? The message? Perhaps it comes back to our core value words: Love, Peace, Hope.
Why do we follow in the path of Jesus? How do we follow in the path of Jesus?
Who else do we follow and why? Do these people we choose to follow emulate our core value words? Do the emulate the path of Jesus? Or have we lowered our expectations because or that they are mere mortals? There is a big reason why Jesus has to be human when he walks the earth. He is as human as us because we are just as capable of walking the path. Or, at least, we can strive to continually come back to the Path. Have we lowered our expectations because that’s not the reality we live in? Jesus, too, lived in a time of war, discord, and division. The point is to stop perpetuating war and division…especially when it’s not easy.
This is not to have lofty, unattainable expectations, but to continually seek role models who also strive to emulate our core values.
Who leads us and lights the way for us? Who are we following and why? These are important questions to ponder. First, to acknowledge and honor our teachers, and second, to be sure we are in line with our core values.
Do our leaders, those we follow, live up to our core values? One of the hardest tasks is to admit, not necessarily mistakes, but perhaps an outgrowing of what one thought. In fact, it takes deep, deep courage. And perhaps, it is something that need not be spoken and admitted to aloud. Perhaps, it rests on our heart and is better not spoken aloud. Those we follow can be a personal journey. We do not have to open ourselves up to any of the “I told you so’s” that are so hard to resist saying. On that note: when we’re on the other side (we’ve all been on both sides and probably will again), let’s strive to not be that person.
Let’s strive to be role models ourselves. As we are following, we are also, each one of us, leaders and guides of others. There are someones following us and being guided by us. Yes. It’s true. Often, we aren’t even aware.
I always say this and will continue to say it. Over and over…and over again. Our small acts matter. ALL of them. From our small words that can inspire or drag down to each one of our big and small actions.
As we are following, someone is also following us.
Each one of us is a role model for someone else. We are, each of us, being watched and listened to. Who is following us? And why? Our core values help us to quietly become the best teacher/leader we can be. As we evaluate who we follow, we continually should be evaluating who we are. Are our actions aligning with our core values? Do our words and actions match?
Sometimes, it’s just being unaware of things/habits that have crept in. Are we unintentionally being followed in ways we’d prefer we weren’t followed. Are we beginning to get caught up in a little bit more gossip or giving in to burst of anger and frustration? Are we unable to resist that one, teeny weeny snide comment on social media (telling ourselves: it’s social media, it’s not a big deal) that then spreads like wildfire (or even just as a small, local bonfire). I like to speak to social media because it seems so very small, but if our small acts matter, then the small things we post matter. What is it we would like to share and ripple forth?
Intentions are important, especially if we believe our small lives matter. No, that doesn’t mean we have to be perfect all the time, but it does mean we have to try to be good role models. To behave in the ways we’d like others to behave. To behave and speak and even think in ways that are inspiring to follow.
Each of us will have our own way of inspiring. Some will encourage others to learn and think for themselves. Some will inspire others to create great art and poetry. Sometimes, we will inspire with our own courage, our laughter, our even our tears. Sometimes we will lead others to behave with kindness and peace.
I think we all want the same thing. Probably peace, love, unity. But how we go about it might look different and sometimes it gets messy. How do we connect to the things we all want?
Unity. Peace. Love. (PAUSE to come back to the words you wrote).
We can’t create unity with division.
We can’t create peace by battling.
We can’t cultivate love with hate.
The practice is to not turn these into big, lofty things that we, as small people, don’t have to do, but to create bridges and peace in our daily lives. We’re afraid we’re losing, but maybe we’re winning when we don’t widen the divide. Maybe we’re winning when we disengage from the battle. We’re definitely winning when we cultivate love when we’d really rather dislike, if not down right hate.
It may seem like we’ve run or walked away, but maybe we’re engaging by not engaging.
Is what we feel we need to say in the moment our core value? This is truly a question to ponder. What are our core values, core words, and is what we need to say in the moment a part of our core value? There is a ripple effect, sometimes, it does align with our core values to say it and let it ripple. Sometimes, it does more harm to disengage. Sometimes, it does more harm to engage.
It takes courage, and practice, to hold true to our core values. It takes time to discern our core values and how to engage with them in the world. Certainly not holding anyone to perfect, just to practice. How do we want to inspire?
Who would we drop our fishing nets to follow into the unknown? What do they stand for that we are willing to give up everything for? Why do they inspire us so much that we will enter into the unknown to be with them?
Who is this person? Jesus, perhaps. What are the core values? What is the core mission? Can we put that into words? Just a few simple words, so that every time we are tested we may ask ourselves…is this loving? Is this peaceful? Is this true? Is this what Jesus would do or say?
Anchors. As we drop our nets and walk into the unknown, what anchors us?
Maybe it’s Jesus. Maybe it’s Love. Maybe it’s Peace. Maybe it’s Kindness. Maybe it’s Courage. Maybe it’s Unity. What small words can be our anchor as we drop our fishing nets and tread a more meaningful path worthy of following and worthy of being followed.