The other day I came across my student pictorial directory from Fuller Seminary. Of course, I looked for the page where my face was pictured. I was amazed at how much I’ve aged in 45 years.
The fact is this. Inside I feel I’m still that 25-year-old pastor-in-training. I’m guessing you know what I mean. In spite of the number of candles on our birthday cake, the person inside the one who blows remains the same age. As I thumbed through the directory, I made note of classmates who walked the same halls and ate in the same dining room as I did. I saw Gary Walter, who would eventually be elected president of a major Protestant denomination. And then there was Mark Galli, a Masters of Divinity student like me, who would become editor-in-chief of Christianity Today, the preeminent go-to periodical for North American pastors.
I saw a photo of Robert A. Schuller (son of the famed Crystal Cathedral pastor) who would take over the ministry of his famous father. There was Bruce Narramore who, with his uncle, would start the Rosemead School of Psychology.
As I kept turning the dogeared pages, I saw Neil Clark Warren. This psychology professor would find his niche several years later as the founder of eHarmony (one of the first online dating services). And then there was a mug-like photo of a very young Michael Youssef who would go on to become an internationally-known televangelist based in Atlanta.
Page after page revealed photos of classmates who would go on to distinguish themselves as Christian musicians, mega-church pastors, college professors, best-selling authors, advertising executives and book publishers. As I realized the success so many of my former classmates had experienced, I felt a twinge of envy. What might I have done differently that would have resulted in a more influential trajectory? What did I opt for as a student that limited my potential as a pastor? Should I have spent more time with the books than exploring Southern California on weekends?
But my mental dance with the green-eyed monster began to slow to a stop. I looked up from the pictures in the directory and started looking back over my life. I made note of at the unique opportunities I’ve had since 1977. No, my resume doesn’t even begin to compare with a Robert Schuller or a Mark Galli or a Michael Youssef. But the people I’ve met, the churches I’ve served, the places to which I’ve traveled and the experiences I’ve been afforded have resulted in more blessings than I deserve. Walking the halls of my memory and looking up at the portraits on the wall (actually on the pages of my directory) resulted in an overwhelming sense of gratitude.
Embracing the opportunities and experiences God allows us is the first step in learning the dance steps of contentment.
Like George Bailey (in my favorite Christmas movie) who never experienced the wealth or success of his high school classmate Sam Wainwright, I relate to someone who has not known the outcomes of his childhood dreams.
But when all is said and done, I’ve had a pretty wonderful life after all. I’m guessing you have had a wonderful life as well.
Guest columnist Greg Asimakoupoulos is chaplain at Covenant Living at the Shores in Mercer Island.