Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Reflections upon Turning Eighty

Today is my 80th birthday, so rather than writing about theological / ethical / political matters as I often do, this article is mostly personal. Although I had nearly finished "Temptations upon Turning Eighty," the article I originally planned for today, I decided to scrap it and to focus instead on gratitude rather than on temptations. 
Theologian Diana Butler Bass’s new (2018) book is titled Grateful: The Transformative Power of Giving Thanks. Although I have not yet read it all, I think Bass's book is basically correct, so I begin these reflections by expressing my gratitude for the following:
(1) I am thankful for good health. Except for a small pill I take each morning for high blood pressure and another small pill I take each evening for cholesterol, I seem to have no other health problems that are not kept under control with diet and exercise. (That is why I am not yielding to the temptations to quit jogging or just to eat whatever I want.)
Also, I am grateful for good genes as well as for good health: my father was quite healthy until four days before he died at age 92.
(2) I am thankful for a good wife and a good family. As many of you know, June and I married in May 1957, the same month we graduated from Southwest Baptist College ( a junior college then, a university now). I was still 18 and June was 19.
Then on this day, August 15, the next year, our son precious Keith was born. Today we are celebrating, together, his 60th birthday along with my 80th birthday.
After Keith, we had three more children, and now we also have seven grandchildren. I am most thankful for the good wife and mother June has been all these years and also grateful for the fine people our children and grandchildren are—and are becoming.
(3) I am thankful for my calling and for my career in Japan. As most of you know, June and I spent 38 years as missionaries to Japan, and I served for 36 years as a full-time professor and administrator at Seinan Gakuin (University) and the last 24 of those years also as a part-time pastor.
Our years in Japan were quite difficult in some ways, but very rewarding in most ways. I am deeply grateful for our calling to that field of service and for the challenges of seeking to fulfill that calling.
When I wrote about June’s 80th birthday last year (here), I said that “she has basically lived a life without regrets.” I can mostly say the same about myself—but still, there are some regrets.
I have absolutely no regrets about getting married so young and starting our family so soon. (If I had the choice, I would certainly do the same thing again.) But I do regret that through the years I was not a better husband and a better father. There are many ways I could have—and should have—done better.
Also, as implied above, I have absolutely no regret about living and serving in Japan for 38 years. (Once more, if I had the choice, here also I would do the same thing again.) But I do regret that I was not able to be a more effective teacher, a more effective pastor, and a more effective administrator.
Gratitude Tops Regret
Still, there is no use of harboring any regrets for the past, which cannot be changed--or in worrying about the future. So I am determined to live in the present, today and in all the days ahead, with gratitude, bearing in mind these wise words:
By Ann Voscamp


  1. Happy Birthday, Leroy. As the one person who has shared the majority of your years, I am happy to say I admire your passion for truth and integrity, which I have observed all through the years. Admittedly your interest in "having too little" may not have found full acceptance with the rest of your family, but I am sure that is the ideal path for a follower of Jesus. Thank you for being that person we could always count on. Blessings on your 80th birthday!

    1. June doesn't post comments on my blog articles usually, although she often makes comments on the articles to me directly, but I much appreciate her being the first to comment this time and for her kind words.

  2. Have a Blessed 80th today and many more my Dear friend!
    I remember our early days in Northwest Missouri where we grew up together and the Hot summers when I spent time with you and your Wonderful Family on your farm.
    We grew up as Southern Baptists and you dedicated most of your life, and still are, to Serving our LORD & Savior.
    My Dear wife and I are so fortunate that we have been in touch with you and your Dear wife June over All these years.
    You are a very `Special` person Leroy and I want to Thank you and our LORD for our Lifelong friendship.
    I look forward with Great anticipation to spending Eternity with you and your Wonderful Family in Heaven.
    Donna Sue and I wish you a Happy Birthday today and Many more!
    May our LORD continue to Bless you, June and your Family!
    Bless You,
    John(Tim) Carr

    1. Thank you, John Tim, for your kind words. You are one of the few friends I have had for more than seventy years, and I much appreciate your friendship--as well as your dedication to our Lord. Shortly you will also experience the joy of turning 80, so let me wish you an early Happy Birthday. (There really isn't much difference from being 80 and being 79 years and 364 days old!)

  3. Happy birthday, Leroy! I hope you have a good day, if a reflective one. K told me that you had already exceeded in years the average life expectancy of white American males. More importantly I think is that you have found ways to continue to experience life meaningfully--through thought, word and service--and that your physical health facilitates that. While I cannot speak for all in my generation, some 18 years behind you, this member of that demographic is cheering you on--in gratitude!

    1. Thanks, Milton, for your kind words--and for being one of my much-appreciated Thinking Friends.

      There are so many other things I am thankful for than I could mention in a brief article, but having good, thoughtful friends, such as you, is a real blessing for which I am truly thankful.

  4. I join the others in praying this will be a blessed day for you. Though I write rarely in response to your articles, I enjoy being challenged by all of them. May your health in spirit, mind, and body keep you sharing with the rest of us for years to come.

    1. Tom, thanks for taking the time to write and for your good wishes. I appreciate you and all that you have become and all that you have done since we first met in the summer of 1959.

  5. Gratitude is a excellent word to live by.

  6. As one who has come along a little later into your 80 years so far, I've been a later witness and beneficiary of the ways you follow Jesus — with your intellect and with your life. Thanks for the way you keep illustrating those four L's, Leroy!

    1. Thanks, Fred! I am grateful for old friends, such as those above, but I am also grateful for new friends, such as you. My life has been enriched and blessed because of you and I am so thankful that we were able to become friends a few years ago.

  7. I am grateful for the many people who sent birthday greetings and wrote kind words for that occasion; I am especially appreciate Michael Olmsted, a Thinking Friend who lives in south Missouri, for his words of affirmation:

    "I too am grateful ... to know Leroy Seat ... to read his thoughts which are not only well articulated, but absent rancor, petty feelings, and shallow motivation, and are shaped around a mature faith in God that sees what can be by grace.

    "Bless you my friend for inspiring so many of us by the way you live out your faith. I hope for you and your lovely wife many more years of encouraging us to live by the strength Christ offers us."