Several years back I was at a dinner party with my wife Michelle when the lady of the house made this comment “half jokingly” about her husband (once he left the room of course).
“Oh, he can be quite high maintenance at times.”
It wasn’t a compliment.
Tell you the truth, it wasn’t the first time I ever heard one spouse say this about another and it got me thinking about some Christians I know and even friends from way back—even relatives. Which ones would most consider ‘high maintenance’ and which ones would most say are not?
If I am, at least my princess bride would never tell. That’s because she is the polar opposite of high maintenance and as servant-hearted a person as you’ll ever meet.
And I have fiends who I know would be there in a heartbeat should I ever need them—even though I haven’t seen some for years.
Contrast this with those in all of our lives who just seem to need constant upkeep. I’m talking about people who don’t live by relating, but rather, by rules. They are keepers of the list. What is the list you say?
I’m talking about the unspoken list of criteria (conditions) they apply to all those they say they care about. Goes something like this…
“If I am going to love you—you will:
send gifts for every occasion without a miss (I, on the other hand, will not).
center all conversation on me and my latest whatever (I’m not interested in you so keep that to yourself, I mean, I’m sure your life’s story is endlessly interesting ‘quick glance to the wrist-watch’ — but it has one major flaw. It’s your life’s story and not mine!”).
never confront me about anything that even smells negative! Real friends lie.
botom-line? I matter and you don’t. Don’t forget it!”
This love has a name. It’s called ‘conditional love.’ And keeping the ‘conditions’ takes a tremendous amount of work. I call it, ‘high maintenance.’ And a quick glance at the most important people in my life shows none of these H.M. types.
Anyway, I was reminded of that this Thanksgiving time.
Then, (it being ‘Thanksgiving season’ and all) I got to thinking about some of the closest friends and most influential people in my life and had to admit.
They aren’t ‘high maintenance.’ In fact, most of them have qualities I wish I had more of:
My best friend, Art, is a stud, yet he never brags or steers a conversation toward himself. He’s all about others and making them look good. If you ask me, it makes him look pretty good in God’s eyes I’ll bet.
My wife has more talent in her pinky than I do in my whole being yet she prefers to be ‘backstage’ in life and play a supporting role.
Jack Wyrtzen (the man who started “Word of Life” ministries, Bible institutes and camps) could more often be found in a dark, out of the way corner seeking the Lord than out in front. He’s gone home to be with the Lord now and (in this life at least) will never know how many times I went looking for him and found him all alone, on his knees, seeking His heavenly Father. That ministered greatly to me.
My two children seem almost abnormal in their love and commitment to Jesus—abnormal in a good way. They truly love Him more than anything or anyone. Today my son went to play at a friend’s house and ended up helping him with chores. My daughter watched the “Kit Kitridge” movie with me and felt so bad about the economic crises the world is in right now that she emptied her life’s savings and wanted desperately to give it to her mother and I in case things got worse.
And, finally, I spent this past Sunday at our Southbrook Monroe campus and was reminded of how much farther the right hearts and an all out commitment to Jesus can go than a truckload of money for all the bells and whistles most think are mandatory for church plants today.
There are so many more people who have influenced me, but these are the one’s God brought to mind this evening. For whatever reason they stand out in my mind and heart at the moment. The apostle Paul expressed the way I feel about you all better than I ever could…
2Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3I thank my God every time I remember you. 4In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Phil. 1:2–6
Maybe it’s their supernatural love for others.
Perhaps it’s their commitment to live for Jesus come what may.
But I bet they’ll never guess how nice it is to know that the way they ‘do life’ is a testimony to me at times because they are soooo—