The last month I attended three memorial services of people I knew well. Each service had several important similarities. First, they were all packed to capacity with family, friends and admirers. Second, people came from near and far to celebrate their lives.
Yes, I said celebrate.
People were present for the celebration of a life well lived. As the services celebrated each person’s life, a central fact permeated loud and clear. These three lives focused on loving God first and then manifesting that love in their relationships with family, friends and the work they were called to do. It was inspiring.
The airwaves are full of stories of tragedy and evil. These people and so many others hold our world together through everyday acts of love and kindness. The difference they make is only partly demonstrated by the crowds that showed up to honor these three men.
Howard Inouye was called to be an engineer at Boeing and then a long-term math teacher at King’s Schools. Everywhere he went he spread joy and knowledge by being an inspirational example of what it means to live a Christ-focused life everywhere he went… at home, work, and play.
Rick Roberts was called to be a pastor. He worked with kids in Young Life and then served in the local church. All of this in urban ministry. He was one of the most courageous and brave people I have known. He faced daunting challenges in both his work and personal health while maintaining a clear focus on the greater purpose of demonstrating His own personal love for Jesus in a way that others could clearly see.
Phil Smart, Jr. was called to be a car dealer. Phil was a man of bright personality, intense commitment to his co-workers, family, friends and anyone else he ran encountered. He overcame difficult personal challenges along his journey, devoting himself to a continually growing relationship with Jesus Christ. His relationship with God spilled out to everyone around him, not in religious language but in a personal presence of love and care for everyone he encountered.
None of these short comments do these three men justice. My point is that in spite of whatever came their way, these men demonstrated how powerful it is to live a life that is centered around a growing, transforming relationship with Christ. This in turn leads to becoming a person of humility who is a giver of all they have for the good of others. Thanks Howard, Rick and Phil for showing me the way.