Rick is a graduate of Cincinnati Christian University and Cincinnati Bible Seminary. He is Senior Minister at LifeBridge Christian Church in Longmont, Colorado and is a frequent speaker at ministers’ conferences, retreats, leadership seminars business conventions. He is also the on-air host for "Worship" and co-author of The Externally Focused Church, 60 Simple Secrets, and Windows on Worship Devotional Series. Rick and his wife Diane live in Longmont and have three children.
After serving with Campus Crusade of Christ for more than 25 years, Eric Swanson joined the staff of Leadership Network where he works with churches and Christian leaders who are engaged in Kingdom ministry. He is currently pursuing a Doctor of Ministry degree in Transformational Leadership In the Global City. Eric is the co-author of The Externally Focused Church and numerous articles on churches that are transforming their communities.
A Life on Loan
By Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson
CBN.com You only get one shot at this thing called life. You can live it for yourself, or you can live it by serving others.
Authors Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson want to help Christians live life to the fullest. In their new book, Living a Life on Loan: Finding Grace at the Intersections, they discuss how you can discover your purpose in life and experience the full life that God wants you to have. All that you have -- your loves, your talents, your resources, your opportunities -- are from God, and He's concerned with how you'll use these to extend His grace to others.
When you begin to see your life as being borrowed from God rather than something that you own, it will change the way you live.
The authors recently discussed their book.
You believe that each life is truly a gift and that we must live our lives as such. How can we “pay it forward”?
Every loan that is given is given with an expectation for it to be repaid. I’m certain that if I were to quit making payments on my house it wouldn’t be long before I would hear from the bank. Eric and I believe that our lives belong to God and therefore are on loan from him. The repayment we make is in how we live. The Bible says we are God’s workmanship created to do good works which he has already planned in advance for us to do. There are all kinds of opportunities we each have to find ways to help others, to be of influence and to be a part of writing God’s story. We can “pay it forward” when we use our abilities, experiences, time, energy and effort in helping others. It doesn’t have to be in big dramatic ways; it can be in simple acts of kindness and service.
What kind of “intersections” are you referring to? How do we get there?
I had a Driver’s Ed teacher who reminded me to pay attention to the intersections, because good or bad things can happen at intersections. All day long every day we travel on life’s road. Often we cross paths with people and opportunities that, if we are paying attention, may be exactly the intersection that can meet a need or be of influence or blessing to others or to us. Too often I usually have an agenda. I am not paying attention, I get head down and focused and I just might miss out on an opportunity that God is providing. The truth is that you and I are never ever going to lock eyes with anyone that isn’t as cared for by God as we are. It’s possible that God is using you to write his story into another person’s life.
In your book, you use an acrostic with the word “LIFE” to help readers remember and involve themselves in the most important things of life. What are these things?
Loves: We all have things we care about—that we are passionate about. What is it you really care about? The thing that gets your heart pumping? How can these loves be used to serve others?
Influence: Every person has influence. Whatever our circle of influence, how is that being used to meet the needs of people around us?
Fortune: Resources, Time, Effort, Abilities, Experiences—all of these things are part of who we are and we have the ability to utilize them to influence others.
Eternity: There is more to our life than just this life. What are we doing that impacts eternity?
How does it happen that we plan on living exciting lives but end up living mediocre ones? How is it that we settle for less than what we know is possible?
I suppose there are hundreds of reasons why we settle for mediocrity. Maybe we were never challenged to do more than average. It’s possible that we have experienced some pretty difficult things in life and those things have beat us down. Maybe it’s the negative messages we hear all day long—you can’t, you won’t, etc. For most of us it happens when we settle in, when we choose to play it safe and to stay inside our comfort zone. There are some risks involved if we are going to pursue excellence.
How can one find and fulfill their purpose in life?
I don’t believe God has just one thing for you to do and your job is to keep searching and looking like you would for a needle in a haystack. I think when we honor God, when we invite him to give direction and when we use what we have to serve we are on the path we need to be.
Proverbs 16:9 has been a scripture that has influenced my life the last 25 years. “The mind of man plans his ways, but God directs his steps.” I believe God has given us the ability to think, dream, counsel, scheme and strategize. I also believe that he has invited us to invite him to provide direction. There have been times when I have been guilty of doing all the planning myself and not including God, as there have been times when I sat on a rock waiting for God to send a postcard with every step mapped out. The easiest way to change the direction of a car is when it’s moving. As we begin to make steps towards those things that seem to connect with our passions and our opportunities and we invite God to open and close doors, we are more likely to connect with the part of his story that he is writing through us.
What are some of the reasons why we often don’t “see” the people around us? How can we truly open our eyes to those we meet at the intersections of life?
It doesn’t take us too many breaths in this world before we begin to think I-Me-Mine. Our focus and our interests can become pretty selfish and self-serving. Over the years, we even get pretty good at disguising it, but we still maneuver, manage, and manipulate things or people to our advantage. I think it takes effort to see others, to really see others. To not just see their stuff, their issues—the things we like or don’t like. To really see someone requires that we see past ourselves and often we have to see past the other person’s stuff. We will never see, converse, touch or meet another person that God doesn’t love just as much as he loves us. We need to invite God to help us “see” others, to really see them. To see the child that is inside that is loved by God. To see who they could be if they knew they were loved, really loved.
Tell us the difference—and the connection between—good deeds, goodwill and good news.
Good deeds and good news are like two wings of the airplane. They are both needed and both are evidenced in the life of Christ and the early church. Good deeds often pave the way for good news to be shared. If you lived in a metro area in the 1980’s, researchers say that you heard about 1,000 marketing messages a day. Today, in that same metro area, the number is about 5,000. All day long people are bombarded with “noise.” The only way I know that we are going to be able to “tell” good news is to get close enough so people can hear it. The way that seems to provide that opportunity is to serve, to do good deeds. It is like the old school days of show and tell. We show then we tell. I’m afraid in most Christian circles we have more tell than show. I have some very good friends that have earned the right to speak into my life. I don’t always agree or like what they say, but I do listen because we have journeyed a lot of miles together. We need to earn the right to speak into the fabric of our community, the people around us. Good deeds create goodwill and in turn provide opportunities to share good news.
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