We walked through the glass double-doors and into the restaurant. The white walls with pops of orange accents jumped out at us. We found a place in line and, like lemmings, shuffled out feet as each person strained their neck to read the menu and ordered their food. Once we had ours, we carried our trays to some seats near a big window and sat down across the bright orange table, us one one side, him on the other. He leaned in close, an excited hunch in his shoulders and back, and smiled wide with his teeth and his eyes. The happiest, most joyful people seem to be able to do that. We hadn’t seen him in a month, it’d been 30 days since our last lunch, but we didn’t miss these appointments. They were too important to us, because he brought two things to our life that we think every person needs: a splash of encouragement and a shake of accountability, both, in their own ways, reminders of what’s most important in life.
Chris was the children’s pastor at our church and we volunteered for him with the little kids on Sunday mornings. He’s not what you think of, though, when think of when you think of a pastor, to be honest. He’s got a hairstyle like a rock star, part shaved, part wave, his arms are sleeved with tattoos, and he dresses like a cross between a hipster, Los Angeles, and David Beckham. Yes, he’s as cool as he sounds! He’s an encourager to the max, too. If his life was punctuation, he’d be an exclamation point. He loves loving people, and that’s what we love about him. He’d offered to take us to lunch once a month as a “thank you” for volunteering at church. “Most kids decide their relationship with God by age 10,” he never let us forget. Children’s ministry, therefore, couldn’t be more important. As we sat there, across from him in his black and white checkered flannel shirt, he asked questions, about our life, about our business, about some of our newfound successes and the traction that’d turned into momentum we were gaining; and he grinned. Ear to ear. He told us how proud he was of us. How excited. How encouraged.
And then, in the same stride with the same smile he always had, he said something so simple, yet so profound (and so Chris), that we’ve never forgotten it, “There’s something I want you to remember…”
“What’s that?” we asked.
“You ain’t that great,” he responded.
“I’m not that great. You’re not that great. Nobody’s that great.” But do you know who is great? God. God is great”
After that meeting, every time we saw Chris anywhere, for any reason, the first thing we’d say to each other is, How ya doing?! You know you ain’t that great, right? It was a fun way to remember that life’s not about us. It’s about loving and serving other people, and as we sit here this morning in our suite overlooking Las Vegas — bright colors, flashing lights, words like “Cosmopolitan” in our face, a place where “me” seems more important than “we” and God has no place — where we’re speaking at the largest conference for wedding photographers in the world (one of the biggest honors in our industry), we’re reminded of the bright, orange-colored table where we used to meet Chris and his bright, colorful smile for lunches, where he’d never let us forget one of life’s most powerful truth, maybe something all of us need to be reminded of in an industry that can be intoxicating with accolades, from Instagram likes, comments, and followers, to blog readers, and people who fill rooms to hear us speak:
In reality, we ain’t that great.
But God is.
Here’s a photo of Chris, and his beautiful wife Monica. Love these two so much.