Pack strategically for life’s journey

By Gerry Lewis | Published Saturday, June 30, 2018

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Do you have a backpack? How often do you use it? What do you carry in it? Do you have different backpacks for different occasions? Are you tired of backpack questions?

In the spring of 1984, I was a senior at West Texas State University (now West Texas A&M University), was recently engaged to the Sweetie, who would become my Mrs., and was preparing to attend Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in the fall.

A friend who had been to seminary explained to me there were three schools within the seminary and you could tell which school a student was enrolled in by what he carried around campus. Students from the school of music carried a conductor’s baton. Students from the school of theology carried a briefcase. Students from the school of religious education carried a ping pong paddle.

I think that may actually have been a good-natured jab at religious education majors, which he was one.

But nobody carried backpacks unless they were hiking. That is not the case anymore. The ubiquitous backpack is now welcomed on campus, airplanes, offices, and boardrooms. It has virtually replaced the classic attache case, small suitcase, and even the handbag.

I have actually traveled in Europe for 10 days with only a backpack and small roller suitcase. If I hadn’t needed a tuxedo, dress shoes and CPAP machine, I could have done it with only the backpack.

But the only way to travel with a backpack is to pack strategically, carrying only the necessities for your travels. Trying to pack for every possible contingency only weighs you down, slows your progress and doesn’t leave room for unexpected blessings you might pick up along the way.

Similarly in life, often less is really more. I have written previously about not packing too much for life’s journey. Now, I’m talking about making sure we pack the right things. Traveling with only a backpack is not really possible if you don’t pack strategically.

That’s the reason I state another of my Life Core Values this way: Pack strategically – a backpack of amazing strengths is better than a trunk full of mediocre intentions.

We have both strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes we have to do things that are not necessarily in our “wheelhouse” or “sweet spot.” They are just necessary in the moment. There is a big difference in “doing things” and “assisting progress.”

If we try to be the one who does everything, we can potentially hinder effectiveness. If we learn to operate out of our strengths and partner with those whose strengths complement ours, we can actually assist everyone in traveling well.

Romans 12:6 reminds us that, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.”

Let’s continue to learn how to partner with each other on the journey. Your life matters, my friend. Be amazing!

Dr. Gerry Lewis, author, blogger, church consultant and leadership coach, serves as executive director of the Harvest Baptist Association in Decatur.

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