It caught my attention. A hat on a shelf in a gift shop. No, it was really the writing on the hat. A lot of people love to give advice. But, advice from a tree? Since when did trees start giving advice? What could I learn from a tree?
Of course, I learned in fourth-grade science that trees are a benefit to our world – shade, oxygen, filtering the air, preventing erosion, providing food, building materials, habitat for wildlife and so much more. Our environment would self-destruct without trees. But can I learn something from a tree? The hat said it all. Four simple things. The way I try to live my life. I think, the best way for everyone to live life. So, here’s some advice from a tree:
Go Out on a Limb – Someone told me early in my ministry calling, “Go out on a limb, because that’s where the fruit is.” Thirty-five years of risk-taking ministry has proven that advice given to a fledging pastor was a nugget of gold. Albert Einstein said, “A ship is always safe at the shore – but that is NOT what it is built for.” I learned from my limb-crawling father—no risk, no reward. As a grass-seed farmer, he taught me to plant the seed even with possibilities of too little rain, cold, heat, birds, insects, weeds or too much rain. Many things might destroy the crop, but there definitely was no harvest if you didn’t go out on a limb and plant the seed.
Stand Tall and Proud – My mother coached me early in life to stand up, pull my shoulders back, and walk with my head in the air. No place for sagging shoulders, head down, looking at the ground as if you had lost your last penny. However, standing tall and proud was very different than walking with your nose in the air. Confidence saturated with humility dissuades arrogance. My parents modeled it.
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Remember Your Roots – The wisdom of age helps me to realize how significant my roots are. As I reflect on a history of great grandparents who were late 19th century immigrants from Europe to America and then early 20th century Far West pioneers to Oregon, I’m humbled. Moving my family to Florida 28 years ago with the modern conveniences of the 1980’s and even some financial backing to found a church isn’t all that impressive. So, I’m using my next four months of sabbatical to explore more of both those European and Oregon family roots.
Enjoy the View – Most every child loves to climb a tree for the challenge and the view. We love to drive to the highest point overlooking a city or a scenic countryside view. Climbing above our circumstances for a different vantagepoint gives a whole new perspective. Unfortunately, we often get caught up in the daily grind and life becomes mundane and joyless. Living life to the fullest includes purposefully slowing down to be grateful, reflecting on God’s grace, goodness and blessings. This intentionality will give you a different angle from which to view your life.
So, I’ve learned from a lot of things in life. Now, I’ve learned from a tree. And, I will look at a tree each and every day through new eyes. How about you?
QUESTION: What additional advice do you think a tree might give if it could speak? I’d love to hear it in the comment section below. Thanks!