What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. 2 Timothy 1:14
I recently read a message put on Facebook from an old school friend who had put a message of support to a friend of mine whose sister had recently died after a long illness. It struck a chord in my head about the image or making a deposit in someone else. Here is the Facebook post:
“They marked us, you know. Your mother, Georgia, Imogene, Mrs. France, Mrs. Ferguson, Mrs. Giesleman…. all of them…. too many precious ones to name. They marked us with their love, with what they deposited in us, and what we learned from them. Life lessons and skills and grace that keeps on giving our entire lives. Grace that grows within us and extends to those we encounter. Through us, their love gets re-deposited in people they will never know. While I am so very sorry for your loss, it was good to see all of you. My sister said to me, “You have more fun at funerals than anyone I know”. I had to think about that… how to take it. It isn’t “fun”…. it is joy. Joy in the process of recalling and appreciating what those persons have given me; what their gifts in the past have contributed to my life; and an opportunity to express that to those who have lost loved ones. We never know how far the influence of one life reaches until it is extinguished and people come forth with those ‘precious memories’.”
This is a remarkable tribute – I hope when I die that someone can say the same about me at my funeral – that my life meant something to future generations.
When you go a bank and you have a check to deposit to your account, you can write “For Deposit Only” on the back. Your deposit will increase the value of what is already in the account. Mentoring is like that – you are making a deposit in someone else’s life of your wisdom, love, experiences in order to enhance what is already there. But the image doesn’t stop with just the initial deposit. One of the biblical imperatives is to “pass it on” to future generations. That’s what the author is talking about when she says that the life lessons, skills and love that were deposited in us will get “re-deposited in people [you] will never know”.
Two takeaways from this:
- Who deposited values and character in you? It might have been a friend, a coach, a parent or relative, or, if you are fortunate, someone who mentored you along the way. They invested in you for your benefit, not for their own, and the expectation is that you would do the same in the lives of others. If there is someone who made a deposit in your life, don’t wait until their funeral to thank them for their investment in you.
- Who are you making deposits in at this moment? If you can’t think of anyone, maybe it’s time to start and be intentional in the lives of others. Surveys show that the next generation (millennials) are desperate for someone to mentor them, but the generation that could mentor them has largely ignored their pleas. This is true not just in America, but in other cultures as well. Don’t be intimidated if you have never mentored someone. What they are looking for is the benefit or your wisdom and experience – life experiences that they don’t have. Life itself has been your teacher, and it would be a shame for you not to pass along what you have learned to others. A quote that I like from Albert Einstein says it well: “ Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards.”
If you think of eternity as an endless line, our existence on earth is just a dot on the line. Hard to think of yourself as just a “.” on a line that goes to infinity, but that’s a good visual of the length of our lives here on earth. A friend of mine, Stacy Rinehart, asks the question as to whether you want to be a dot where we live for the present and the temporal, or whether we want to do something that lasts for eternity. He calls it living for the line, not the dot. He adds: “What is amazing is that we can do things in this life that have an eternal impact and bear fruit that lasts forever”.* Making deposits in others is a way to live for the line – where your investments in lives of others will impact their values, character and even their careers or outcomes. Those deposits will get passed on to others “you will never know”. That’s living for the line, not the dot.
*Rinehart, Stacy (2015). Lead in Light of Eternity: The Jesus Model.