I’m a big fish in a small pond. I pastor a small church of wonderful people. In spite of our size, we’ve had a big impact on our region. The classes we’ve offered and the conferences we’ve hosted have allowed us to reach far beyond the four walls of our church and touch the lives of thousands of people. Ministry inside and outside our church has brought me a small measure of notoriety.
Sure, I meet up with the occasional detractor however; most people have treated me with very kind affection and respect. I’m still trying to adjust to this new found notoriety; as a result I’m often surprised at someone’s excitement at meeting me for the first time. In a variety of ways I’ve repeatedly been told how much I’m appreciated, what a blessing I’ve been and that I’m loved. Loved… hmmm…
I believe that these expressions of love are completely genuine and I truly appreciate them. People love the me they know. The problem is… they really don’t know me. They know their experience of me. They know a limited facet of who I am. They know Tom the teacher or Tom the minister or Tom the conference host. They get to see me at my best and they like what they see. This is good. But I have to wonder, would they still love me if they really knew me, if they knew me fully? Would they still love me if they also got to see me at my worst?
I’m convinced that the most honest measure of love isn’t found when we’re at our best but rather when we’re at our worst. Anyone can love me when I perform with excellence but only a true friend can still love me in the midst of utter failure. Isn’t this the way of God’s extravagant love?
"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)
To all of you who have loved me at my best, thank you, I am deeply touched and encouraged by your words. To those of you family and friends who have loved me at my worst, thank you, your love has helped to make me who I am. Though I’ll never be worthy, I am eternally grateful.
© Tom Zawacki 2006
Artwork: “Who Am I” by David Costello