After watching Randy Pausch deliver his "Last Lecture" at Carnegie Mellon University a year before he died of pancreatic cancer on Sept. 18, 2007, a cloud of thoughts jumbled for preeminence in my mind. He was a great mentor. And I use the word great advisedly, because he was truly great, as an encourager, a dream-spinner, a salesman(self-admitted), a hard worker, an education-lover, and a people-lover.
He struck me as a man of highly personal spirituality, with little sense of “Theology.” I arrived at that conclusion because he peppered his presentation with, shall we say, colorful language, not consistent with one of conventional religious adherence. I thought, “Man, here’s a real person. Shame he isn’t a Christian. Wouldn’t he make a great poster-boy for the faith.” The inferred meaning of that self-exclamation being, “If only more Christians demonstrated such excellence of character.”
If I had to apply a single descriptive expression to the man, I’d have to say, “Randy Rausch was Fun-loving.” In his forty-eight years, he learned not to take himself seriously, and to laugh at life’s humor, even if his mistakes caused it.
His lecture lasted over an hour, and he held me spell-bound. As he described his passion for two academic programs he spearheaded, I couldn’t help thinking, “What a legacy he left for generations to come.” But that legacy did not include valuing God and His work in people’s lives. As much as he valued human potential, he said nothing about the enhanced potential God provides for those who love Him.
Then my thought process began sliding down-hill. I realized that, though I love God, most of my potential as His tool has gone unrealized. I have a fruitful imagination. I can express my thoughts in words. I make a good impression on others. I even possess a God-given passion for encouraging others. Yet, my life demonstrates the mediocrity of following the path-of-least-resistance despite the uncounted opportunities for higher attainment that have presented themselves to me.
Consistent with my life-long practice, even now I am compelled to make excuses: I’ve always suffered from a deficit of self-motivation. I’ve always suffered from excessive daytime sleepiness. Dyslexia and poor memory recall have always hampered my academic attempts. And the one that should be obvious by now, I’m very good at feeling sorry for myself. Throughout life I’ve felt the victim of difficult circumstances, rather than viewing barriers as ladders for climbing higher and growing into a better person.
For a Christ-follower to view life through such brown-colored glasses is nothing less than sin. But praise God for His infinite mercy and grace! He even loves self-pitying under achievers. Though I’m no Randy Pausch, that’s something I can get excited about. Father, let my “Last Lecture” proclaim Your wonderful attributes and marvelous works.