Earlier this year, I lost a friend, a brother. We actually both have the same last name—but I grew up in Oregon and he in Pennsylvania. Yet we both married into the same family, just six months apart. So, we are brother in-laws. Paul was an eloquent wordsmith. Last year, while challenged with life-threatening cancer, he wrote, “I have trouble with the thought of making a ‘Bucket List.’ This term projects the demise of one’s life and the desire to fill one’s life with hoped-for events before one ‘kicks the bucket’ and opportunities are lost. A bucket invites a downward gaze, the focus of a ‘Ladder List’ directs one’s in an upward direction.”
You may have a bucket list. But have you ever thought of a making a ladder list? If Paul still had an earthly address, he would be the first person I would ask to be a guest blogger. I love his values, his writing, his witty humor and so much more. In fact, Paul did some blogging for the famous Lehman’s Hardware store in tiny rural Kidron, Ohio where he taught high school for 30 years.
Here’s what my brother in-law Paul Gingerich said are the elements he would include on his ladder list:
Tangible acts of sacrifice for others
Supportive, relationally-focused activities that enhance family
Love for others
Generously giving life to those less fortunate
And…directing praise to God.
Paul went on to write, “My Ladder List has a ‘bottom-up’ kind of focus. It is open-ended and sacrificial. Its goal is to build up, restore and encourage. I give credit to the Apostle Paul for this upside down, ladder list perspective on the future. In Philippians 3:14, Paul highlights this inverted perspective. He says, ‘I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.’ The focus is upward and there is movement. I’m going to start writing my ladder list and keep looking up!” Love To All, –Paul
We live in a world where we are taught to be self-sufficient, to seek and demand the best for ourselves. But even before his cancer and transition to eternal life at age 59, Paul was climbing a different ladder than most career-focused men. Paul concentrated on serving others, supportive relationships and sharing generously. His two and a half year journey with cancer allowed him to put into text something he was already living. And for me–and thousands of others he has influenced–Paul challenged me to live for a ladder instead of a bucket.
QUESTION: What is on your Ladder List? Please share it in the comment section below!