No one ever died saying, “I’m so glad for the self-centered, self-serving, and self-protective life I lived,” author Parker Palmer said in a commencement address, urging graduates to “offer [themselves] to the world . . . with openhearted generosity.”
But, Parker continued, living this way would also mean learning “how little you know and how easy it is to fail.” Offering themselves in service to the world would require cultivating a “beginner’s mind” to “walk straight into your not-knowing, and take the risk of failing and failing, again and again—then getting up to learn again and again.”
It’s only when our lives are built on a foundation of grace that we can find the courage to choose such a life of fearless “openhearted generosity.” As Paul explained to his protégé Timothy, we can confidently “fan into flame” (2 Timothy 1:6) and live out of God’s gifting when we remember that it’s God’s grace that saves and calls us to a life of purpose (v. 9). It’s His power that gives us the courage to resist the temptation to live timidly in exchange for the Spirit’s “power, love and self-discipline” (v. 7). And it’s His grace that picks us up when we fall, so that we can continue a lifelong journey of grounding our lives in His love (vv. 13–14).