Summarize your life in four minutes. Where would you begin? What events would you highlight? What details would you skip over?
At a recent forum, eight pastors sat in front of a sanctuary of observers. Each of them had four minutes to share their introductory remarks. The eight pastors are all candidates for bishop within the Lutheran synod of which I am a part. The actual election takes place early next month.
Four minutes to share one's life and vision for the future. Listening to their individual responses got me thinking about how any of us might respond to such a task. How would you summarize your life in four minutes?
Some candidates highlighted stories of where they were born and significant people in their lives. Others focused on meaningful spiritual experiences. Several candidates shared about their core values and personal characteristics. They all took a slightly different approach and each used their time in a thoughtful way.
Creating a four-minute life summary would likely be a good exercise for all of us to consider. To be able to articulate the most significant themes of our lives in a concise way is of great value.
Maybe we'll never sit in front of a crowd as a candidate for religious office. And we may never find ourselves giving introductory remarks before a political debate, either.
But we will certainly have many opportunities to have meaningful conversations with others. Maybe it will be a stranger on an airplane. Perhaps it will be another parent watching the baseball game. We have chances to listen and to share all the time. Wouldn't it be helpful to have thought through what we want to say about what matters most?
Perhaps you've had a few experiences in life that really taught you about God's presence and power. You likely have some core values that are extremely important to you. Do you have any past foibles through which you learned significant lessons? What personal triumphs have caused you to celebrate? Who are the people who have shaped and reshaped your perspectives?
I haven't conjured up my four-minute life summary yet. But I've sure been thinking about it, and I hope you'll be pondering this topic, too.
When you've had some thoughts on the subject, why not share those reflections with your loved ones and friends? Have meaningful conversations with those around you.
If you still feel like sharing, I'd love to hear what you'd include in your abbreviated life summary. Email me at email@example.com or send me a note at the Post-Bulletin.
Who are the important people in your life? What are your hopes for the Christian church moving forward? What beliefs and values do you most hope to pass on to the next generation? How has a life of faith made a difference in your life?
Whether you end up telling other people about your thoughts or not, I encourage you to take some time to reflect. And if you do feel like sharing, I sure hope you will. No one else has experienced life exactly like you, and you certainly have insights worth sharing!