Wintley Phipps says love is . . .
Wintley Phipps and I have something in common – we both hail back to Kingsway College in Oshawa, Ontario. He attended there as a student; I got my first job as a new Physical Education teacher there in 1978. The things we have in common cease at that point. Even as a young academy student at Kingsway it was becoming obvious that he had a special ability to sing. And as most are aware, he went on to achieve worldwide notoriety with his amazing baritone voice. He has sung before six different U.S. presidents and countless others from the ranks of the important and famous. In spite of his own fame, he remains humble in his role as a Seventh-day Adventist pastor and continually gives God credit for any good that comes from his voice or otherwise.
He came to Pacific Union College earlier this school year and blessed us with his message and his singing. The dude can sing, is all I can say! Anyway, during one of his messages he shared the following description of what love is, a definition, if you will, that seems to capture its essence quite well.
“Love is when you choose to be at your best when others around you are not at their best.”
This, to me, is a significant choice theory statement. Choice theory really is about love and belonging and connection, and love is really about choice. Having a feeling of love is great; savor it while it is present. More often, though, love is a choice. It is a choice, as Pastor Phipps reminds us, to show up at our best, with warm regard and compassion for others, with a desire for others to be successful, not because we feel like doing it, but because Jesus asked us to join Him in His quest to shower the world with love.
I hope I am not coming across like I have my act together when it comes to loving others. When others are not at their best it can be very difficult to not behave like that, too. How Jesus maintained His love and dignity during His trial and crucifixion, being so abused, is beyond me. Yet what an amazing example of what is possible for us through His Spirit! As I have said before, choice theory does not make us perfect. It provides insight into our behavior, but that is all. Insight like that is no small thing and I appreciate choice theory because of that. Choice theory supports the choice to love; the desire and power to love comes from the Spirit and He Who is Love.
The best posting yet Jim!
Very thoughtful and helpful.
Jim, this post couldn’t have come at a better time. I was sitting in my office, quiet…the angry kind of quiet. And not wanting to speak out of fear that my speech would be unkind and “reactional.” The quote you shared reminded me of three things. First, love is a choice and love as an attitude influences my thinking and then my actions. I need to ask God for eyes of love, that I may have an attitude of love that sees others as He would have me see them. Especially when it’s difficult. Second, choosing love is also choosing to avoid the seven deadly habits in my interactions with others that are not behaving the way I would like them to behave. And third, and probably most important, I am not always at my best…shocking I know….and should remember that others may share this flaw of mine. Maybe choosing love is choosing to remember that we all fail and it’s not a permanent condition.