This I Believe

Howard - Newton, Iowa
Entered on April 28, 2006
Age Group: 50 - 65
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Life is about more than productivity; it is also about giving and receiving love and caring.

When my wife of thirty-two years and I moved into our new home in a small Midwestern city it seemed like a dream come true. The congregation I served as pastor was humming and prosperous, its success largely generated by the pride and productivity of a Fortune 500 company that had provided employment to our community for over a century.

It came as quite a shock when the layoffs and early retirements began. As stock values fell sharply, a bidding war for ownership of the corporation on which our community had depended began. Families we’d just gotten to know were leaving for employment or early retirement elsewhere in the country. Our congregation began to look and sound like the troubled corporation that had employed so many of its families.

I struggled both personally and as a leader with a loss of pride and sense of accomplishment as financial and volunteer resources slowly disappeared. For the first time in my professional life I wasn’t able to simply work harder or smarter to pull an organization out of its tailspin.

But as months of a major corporate transition turned into a year and then another, I was sensing a deep, refreshing change coming over our community. Formerly much of our worth had been connected to our ability to produce and consume. But ironically, as we lost those former connections we discovered newly emerging assets that had always been present. Our work ethic was now being joined with a renewed sense of caring, hope and cooperation.

As we move together into a still uncertain but hopeful future I believe our community and I are learning that life is about more than mere productivity, profit and economic security; it is also about giving and receiving love and caring, and working together to enhance the lives of people in community.