Being like.

We were saying goodbye to someone who is both a well-respected leader and a delightful colleague. She’s retiring. I was struggling to figure out how to express appreciation for her capacity to always help and never scold in the process. Although she might be called at home four times in the middle of the night while on call, she continued to be graceful and helpful and insightful.

As I was looking for the words, I thought of a sentence I’ve read often, early in the letter attributed to James. “If any of you lacks wisdom,” he writes, “you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

That exactly describes our friend, in the late night calls. That describes how she addresses the various difficult situations that come up in the work of chaplaincy. She gives us the best of her wisdom and never says, “That’s a dumb question” or “I’ve told you that a hundred times” or “Why are you calling now?”

And she has answered my questions a couple times with a flexibility and compassion that show a deeper understanding of needs and principles and implications and possibility that I ever imagined.

I think that this sentence applies to our friend because she is humbly working to be like Jesus. To be conformed to the likeness of Christ. We often think that means a vague sense of loving our enemies or forgiving everyone or some picture we have in our heads of how we wish God would be. But there are many opportunities we don’t consider. Like sharing the wisdom that’s been shared with us. We can be unfailingly and humbly helpful. Our wisdom can be a blessing, not a status symbol.

We can be like Teresa.


I’ve written about that text from James before.