Lessons I’ve Learned from George Bailey – #1

When I was growing up my family would watch It’s A Wonderful Life around Christmas time.  Every year.  Every single year.  This year I’ve started watching it again and realized that there a lot of great lessons to be learned from George Bailey.

Maybe what makes this such a classic movie is that we’ve all probably been where George is in the movie: frustrated, stressed, fighting an internal struggle, and not living the dreams or plans that we always thought we would.  Sure, we’re not in Bedford Falls but could you just as easily slip in the name of your own hometown or neighborhood in its place?  Absolutely.

So I figured I’d share some of the lessons I’ve learned from watching George Bailey and It’s A Wonderful Life.  Most of these lessons are directly related to my place in ministry and the rest of them are more closely related to my own personal life.

Lesson #1:  Some of your friends will likely make far more money than you will but you will touch others’ lives in ways that dollar signs can’t.

In the movie Sam Wainwright had it all: the women, the money, the car, and the high-class lifestyle.  While George is stuck in Bedford Falls, Sam is in New York living the life that George always thought he’d be living.  There’s that part where Sam offers George a job and a chance to invest in a new growing industry.  Remember what Sam says, it’s “the chance of a lifetime”?  George turns it down, marries Mary, and sinks his roots deeper into Bedford Falls.

While George stays in Bedford Falls scratching out a living, how many times do you think he thought about that job, of what could have been?  After a long and crappy day at the office did he wonder if the job was still open?  If you’re in ministry, does that sound familiar to you?  You’re driving home from a rough day or a long and tense elders meeting only to think of that church plant or another job that was open that you could have taken.

But what about those times when George helped the people who couldn’t possibly get help from Mr. Potter?  Instead of having to beg Potter for money to make a decent living they find hope and opportunity with the Bailey Building and Loan.  God has put you in a unique opportunity in ministry to touch people’s lives and provide hope and second chances for them that they may never gotten elsewhere.

If you are in full-time ministry you’re probably never going to make the six figures, that’s just a cold, hard fact.  But you will be able to change lives in ways that dollar signs never could.  And that’s why you will always be richer than the Sam Wainwrights of this world.

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