I am guilty. Guilty of showing favoritism. In my conscious mind I know that every person has worth and value. I even work for an organization that serves the disenfranchised, yet I was confronted by the fact that in my subconscious I have been guilty of not serving well. I am like those that James confronts in his letter found in the New Testament. I have shown VIP treatment to some who have more everything; status, influence, power, yet have treated those with less like they ARE less, which they ARE NOT. I have worked hard to build relationships and influence with the haves, and have not taken the time to get to know the have-nots. I have failed to fully recognize that wisdom does not know socioeconomic boundaries and the riches of life are often available in getting to know those who have persevered, though buffeted mercilessly by life’s blows.
I am determined to heed the words of wisdom learned today and take the following actions so that I “Live to Impact,” not “Live to Impress.” I will slow down from my doing good long enough to serve better by resolving to heed these simple lessons for impacting the world around us:
Dale Carnegie rightly stated that nothing sounds so sweet to a man than the sound of his own name. I resolve to learn one person’s name per day that I previously would have passed by without giving them any thought.
Listen to Stories:
Everybody has one. They are what life is all about, and the only things that have impact from one generation to the next. Our stories are our legacy, and if we are so busy trying to write our own story, without taking the time to intersect with the stories of others, our life will be pale, lifeless, and void of any lasting impact. Think of the funerals you have attended. Which ones do you leave feeling inspired and hopeful? Those where the deceased has had an impact on the lives around him or her! Those who left behind stories of love, compassion and serving others. They are the lives that had an impact. They are the kind of live we all should want to emulate. I resolve to listen to at least one person’s story each day that I otherwise would have passed without hearing.
The lesson of Christmas joy needs to remembered 24 x 7, 365 days per year. The lesson is this. ”It is better to give than to receive.” ”Better for whom?” one might ask. Better for the receiver and the giver. Nothing brings as much joy than giving a gift to someone who appreciates it. Nothing we possess in this life is worth anything past the day we die unless it can affect the life of another. One has two choices. Let it impact others now so one can share in the joy of the effect it has on someone, or die and then let your assets be passed to your heirs and/or the government and hope it has some positive effect on the world. Those are your only two choices at the end of the day! I resolve to share something I possess each day with someone I otherwise would never have impacted.
The other resolutions are fairly simple commitments that can be accomplished daily and with relatively easy effort. Not so with the last one. This one requires commitment to know those you want to impact beyond a surface level. One has to understand the other person’s skills, abilities, vulnerabilities and weaknesses. It is risky. You will likely leverage your relationships and resources to have some people deeply disappoint you. It will likely get messy at times. That being said, having a lasting impact from one person who responds positively is worth the pain caused by many who may not respond or who may let you down. To live life this way is a reflection of the same effort one man-made for all of us 2000 years ago in Galilee. I resolve to provide opportunities for at least 5 people in the next year who I would never have lifted a finger to help in the past.
The truth of the matter is life is short and the need around us is great. If we want to have an impact, we need to open our eyes and ears to the people around us, hear their stories and be there to help them write happy endings to their tales. In doing so our own stories will be enriched and inspire others for generations to come. What Resolutions would you add?
Special thanks to my pastor, Kevin Queen, for his challenging and inspiring words of wisdom.