The Foo Fighters sing,
it’s times like these you learn to live again
it’s times like these you give and give again
it’s times like these you learn to love again
it’s times like these time and time again.
When we began this program, we entered with anxiety and expectation. We all, without doubt, wanted to improve ourselves, to further our education, and to prepare ourselves for seeking and finding new opportunities. Little did we know how much this preparation involved learning to live, to give, and to love.
Remember when, early in our first course together, our professor was just learning our names and referred to several of us by our careers. There was “Blood Man,” “Tire Man,” “IT Guy,” and “Beer Man” to name a few. We came to appreciate her way of capturing concepts in pictures. Often, when we would struggle with a new idea, she would stop, think, and then tell us a story from her life that illustrated the concept.
And then we have learned from each other’s lives. One of the values of this program is that we learned from each other’s experiences and perspectives. Even the academic concepts of business ethics and worldviews changed the way we approach situations in life. We learned to look beyond our own interests to consider the interests of others.
We learned by experiencing life together. The economy was not just a learning concept contrived by our favorite text book author, Griffin (2008, p. 86). No, it was a reality that impacted our lives; impacting some of us more than others. Although we saw and felt the economy’s negative affects on each other’s lives, we also saw a dream become reality. We saw a man elected President of the United States that brought hope to a discouraged and tired nation. We experienced life together and we learned.
You see, it’s times like these you learn to live again.
Learning involves giving. The first night of class our professor asked us to make a list of our expectations for the program we were entering. After we worked at it for a few minutes she asked, “Is anyone still thinking about themselves?” From the very beginning we discovered that learning is not about what we can take away, it is about what we can give away. She lived what she preached. When we offered our perspectives, she used our thoughts to build on her teaching points. She valued our input, not as if “yes, that’s a good idea,” but as if she was actually learning from us.
In the end we gave much more than our opinions to this class, we gave of ourselves. When I first considered our eulogy exercise, I felt it would be very difficult to stand before the class and tell you what to remember about me. The experience was quite different. You see, in the end, our eulogies taught us about each other; masks were off, pretenses were set aside; we saw each other as we are. The emphasis went from “giving MY eulogy” to “GIVING my eulogy.” That night, we gave something of ourselves away.
You see, it’s times like these you give and give again.
For 15 months we have spent every Tuesday evening together. We have laughed and we have cried; we have argued and we have agreed. We have asked questions about what is the greatest good for the greatest number of people and we have learned to appreciate diversity in food, culture, and thought. As individuals created in the image of God, a God who not only loves but is Love itself, we now understand our responsibility to reflect this love in our relationships with the community, the environment and with each other. We have listened to each other, encouraged each other, and prayed for each other. After our 15 months of Tuesdays, the realization that we may never spend another evening together brings sadness, yet we realize that each of us is a better person from having spent time with each other.
You see, it’s times like these you learn to love again.
Often I have wondered why we are born with no knowledge, learn throughout our lives, and then die, leaving it all behind. At first glance it seems like a waste. But then I realized that part of the answer is found in the process. Learning does not take place in isolation. When I learn something new, it must be shared. Our class has been proof that learning is a participative process.
Sometimes learning can be planned, as has been done with this program. But sometimes learning is spontaneous. In either case, learning must be intentional. Always be on the lookout for a teaching moment. Find those moments with your children, your co-workers, your friends. It may be when you are sitting around in a teepee smoking big cigars with your friends or making snow globes with your grandchildren (one of which is named Veronica), or playing catch with your children, or riding in your car on the way to the doctor’s office. Learning is less about knowledge than it is about understanding.
So I encourage you to take what you have learned over the past 15 months and make it your own. Each of us has a unique personality, a unique set of people we influence, and a unique perspective on life. This means that we can make a difference in the lives of those around us. It is the relationships we have with our bosses, our co-workers, our customers, our family members, our friends where purpose is found. Don’t sell yourselves short in whatever you do. Remember that you are created in the image of a God who loves, a God who desires to live in relationship with you, and a God who desires to work through you. He will open doors for living, for giving, and for loving.
You see, it’s times like these time and time again.