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15 Life Lessons

The New Year brings a new start. It’s a time that many will mentally hit an imaginary refresh button on many things in life, things we all hope to do better than we did last year. For some, it’s a healthier lifestyle that involves more exercise and a better diet. For others it may include more time with the most important people in life. And yet for many, it’s adding or refreshing the spirit through a deeper relationship with God. As a YMCA, we hope that as you engage in a new, or renewed physical routine in 2019, you will not neglect that which has eternal significance. 

John Mott is a name that many will never know. I like to refer to him as one of the spiritual giants of the YMCA’s earliest days. Throughout his adult life and career, John served in a variety of YMCA roles: National Secretary for the Intercollegiate YMCA of the USA and Canada, Chairman for the Executive Committee of the Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign Missions, Chairman of the International Mission Council, General Secretary for the International Committee of the YMCA, and the list could go on and on.  Needless to say, John was deeply rooted in YMCA work. 

While giving his life to his work, he wrote, “15 Life Lessons I Have Learned from a Life-time of YMCA Service.”  Whether these are applied personally or organizationally, they will help create a new sense of purpose and meaning to life.  As we begin 2019, let’s refresh with what makes our organization so different from all others.  Here’s John’s “15 Lessons”:

  1. JESUS CHRIST IS THE FOUNDATIONHe provides the direction and the zest for life. If we understand His teachings and His personality, He will make His own impression on our lives and it will be revolutionary.
  2. STUDY AND PROMOTE THE USE OF THE BIBLEDeQuincey said the cause of all evil is the lack of interest in religious writing. If I were to stay longer, I would give a front-line place to reawakening interest in the religious writings of Christianity. There is nothing to take their place.
  3. THE DICIPLINE OF PRAYER IS ESSENTIAL "He departed a stone's cast beyond the Apostles, and kneeled down and prayed." I need only to say that we must make prayer one of the primary objectives of this brotherhood. 
  4. DO "MULTIPLYING" WORK. "He that does the work is not as profitably employed as he who multiplies the doers." Enlisting volunteers is one of our greatest tasks.
  5. USE THE "HEROIC APPEAL."  A heroic appeal often gets a heroic response.  It is good to have difficulties because it calls out the most in you, it drives you to get the cooperation of others, it drives you to God.
  6. STRATEGY IS IMPORTANTThere are strategic points which if captured, make easy all that lies behind them. There are strategic classes and strategic races, strategic times, strategic methods, strategic places. We must know what they are.
  7. WE NEED TO GET INTO THE FIELDYou cannot develop a Christian from an office chair. We need to be out meeting and dealing with personalities.
  8. WE CAN TRUST OTHERSWe can afford great acts of trust.  I can testify that I have never had others disappoint me.
  9. RULE BY THE HEART People are reached "via the heart." There is no substitute for love and kindness and sympathy.
  10. STUDY PRIORITIESNo man can do all the good to be done in the world.  We need to list and study our own priorities daily.
  11. SMALL GROUPS ARE OF GREAT VALUEChrist sent them out "two by two."  At one time, He had five disciples, at another time three, at another time eleven, and at another, twelve. Why did Christ attach importance to small groups? I long ago decided that it was wise to follow Christ in this method.
  12. ADOLESCENCE IS A CRUCIAL TIMEIf I had my life to live over I would spend much time on the adolescents' age group. These are the habit-forming years, the years of determining life attitude and tendencies, the years of creativeness.
  13. DON'T OVERLOOK OLD PEOPLEHere is wisdom and experience for our asking. Here, also, is a group to whom we must give kindness and affection.
  14. EMPHASIZE THE IMMEDIATE.  We need to live under the spell of immediacy. What other time will there be? What other generation than the present can we work with?
  15. BE ATTENTIVE UNTO GOD"Speak Lord, for thy servant hearkens" and "My soul, be silent unto God." We must put out other sounds - noises of selfish ambition - prepare ourselves to say, "Speak Lord, for thy servant hearkens."

Taken from remarks presented at the North American Association of YMCA Secretaries meeting on his 83rd birthday, May 25, 1948, in Grand Rapids, Michigan

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About the Author

Bruce has served in full-time ministry for over 25 years and has served as chaplain at the YMCA at Pabst Farms since August, 2006. Prior to moving to Wisconsin, he served as Associate Pastor of Missions and Evangelism at Alpha Baptist Church in Morristown, Tennessee as well as Minister of Activities and Recreation. .. Read More »

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