I believe that there is a desire to make a difference in the world that is woven into us at birth. To make your mark- to put a “dent in the universe”. Your choice is to either follow these desires and dreams or suppress them and give up. The choice to give up is easy when you think it’s impossible. Our job as leaders is to illuminate the path. Model doing the impossible or the uncomfortable. This is a story about lighting the path.
I was sitting beside a small fire on NewYears eve enjoying the company of some good friends and some outrageously large oysters. Sitting at the fire was a girl named Rebecca who is the daughter of some good friends from church. Rebecca was home for the holidays and was sharing some ministry stories that occurred while she was away at college in North Carolina. Rebecca was able to seek out and find an inner-city ministry near her campus where she served on weekends. She also shared that she had located a street church where service takes place outside in the yard of an abandoned church. She shared some amazing stories of how she was able to serve and develop relationships with the poor in the community near her campus and also serve a church that tragically lost it’s pastor and continues because of a great effort by the surviving family. She was beaming as she shared several truly amazing stories of restoration and God’s infinite grace. This was my highlight of the evening.
While she was sharing, I began to connect the dots. Rebecca had served throughout her high school years nearly every Saturday at an inner-city street ministry that we have at our church. Rebecca was a regular. She made a strong connection with the folks in the neighborhood. When she left for college I was regularly asked where she was. See- Rebecca made an impact! Not by giving out surplus food, but through her amazing smile and her way of being genuinely interested in their lives. Rebecca went deeper. Yes- Rebecca is special- but there is more.
As I considered her impact, it occurred to me that the beginning of the trail actually started with her parents willingness to serve. If her parents hadn’t modeled this behavior, it is very unlikely that Rebecca would be serving the poor in North Carolina. It can be a tough decision to take your child downtown to serve in a dangerous neighborhood. You can easily talk yourself out of it. Also, to model the behavior, you actually have to get out of bed early each Saturday and drive to the ministry. I have experienced this one first hand. Your pillow is a hard thing to give up on the only day each week that you have to sleep in! Yet, over both of these, they were faithful. And their faithfulness was rewarded with a daughter that truly “gets it”.
Many folks work hard their entire lives trying to make that “dent in the universe”. They store up money and build empires. They seek to get their name on a building somewhere. They work really hard to make their children wealthy, comfortable and self-sufficient.
All of these are fleeting. Wealth will eventually be lost or squandered away. Buildings will eventually crumble and fall. And the pursuit of comfort and independence ends unfullfilled.
The secret is often right next to you. You have to choose to light the path for others. You can show them how to truly influence lives. And when you do, it’s contagious. They will continue on modeling for others and then the multiplication factor kicks in.
This is how you can truly change the world! So, what is your plan? Will you continue to build an empire based on things that will eventually crumble or will you invest in things that will march on for generations. Maybe a quick look at your planner might reveal where your heart truly is? It starts with taking a risk and putting yourself out there. Are you ready? Can you break the power of your pillow and the pursuit of comfort to light the path for others?