Have you ever heard someone say something and immediately thought, “Wow! That was profound! I wish that I’d thought of that.”
Come on, be truthful. That’s never happened to you? Well, it has to me, and the most recent occurrence is what I want to share with you today.
A few months ago my best friend (other than my wife Jackie) Rusty and I attended an ARC (Association of Related Churches) Conference in Dallas, Texas. The conference is attended by Pastors, church planters, and ministry students from various parts of the country. What draws me there is two and a half days of on-fire worship sessions and messages from the pastors who have been invited to speak.
During my first ARC Conference last year, I received several “nuggets” that opened my eyes and my heart, and I got some clarity on a decision that Jackie and I had been wrestling with for months. As a result of last year’s experience, I awaited this year’s conference with great expectations.
I wasn’t disappointed.
I was lifted to unbelievable heights by the worship sessions and blown away by the messages given by some clearly anointed men and women. The last message, on the last hour of the last day, delivered by Pastor Craig Groeschel of Life Church in Edmund, Oklahoma, was the one that “hit me in the mouth” and left me a bit awestruck. And of course, that’s the one that I want to share with you today.
I’m going to offer you my version of Pastor Craig’s message, because I couldn’t give it to you verbatim, and because I wouldn’t do him or his message justice if I tried to! Besides, I’ve taken the gist of his message and made it a part of my fabric, a part of me. His message has taken what was on my heart and elevated it to a “nutha-whole-level!”
Making a difference.
My intention, my aim, my purpose in life since I declared myself to be a soldier of Christ in 2006 has been to make a difference, regardless of how large or small, in the world. My “difference” has nothing to do with material possessions, business achievements, or personal accomplishments. In fact, it’s quite the contrary.
At the core of my “making a difference” is helping people in whatever way possible to improve their walk in life, to grow their careers, and of course, to strengthen their relationship with God.
There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that much of what has happened in my life during the past several years is a direct result of several individuals who tried to make a difference in my life. A couple of these people were long-time acquaintances, but many were people that I’d just met!
For reasons that I just didn’t “get” back then, they took the time to invest in me. From my perspective, it’s a perfect example of the “paying it forward” principle that we always hear about, but seldom take the time to do. I believe that at times our reluctance to pay it forward is because quite often, doing so is an inconvenience. You see, sometimes you have to go out of your way, or give up your time or your resources to make a difference.
At any rate, as best I could remember, I’d never been a recipient of this act of selflessness, and to be quite honest with you, it kind of rocked my world. I just couldn’t figure out why a stranger would take the time to invest in me, but to this day I remain grateful that they did. And I guess that has been and continues to be my motivation for paying it forward.
After hearing Pastor Groeschel’s message and turning in over and over in my mind to view it from every perspective, and to get the “fit and feel” of it, much like a new suit, I decided to raise the bar for my daily expectations.
Now, it’s just not enough for me to want to make a difference in the world each day. I’m aiming higher.
If God will help me (I can do nothing without Him), I want to make history every day.
Okay, before you jump to the conclusion that I’m really cocky or full of myself, check this out…
Those people that invested in me several years ago changed the course my life. One of them instilled in me a confidence that I’d never had. One awakened business skills that I never knew that I possessed. One of them led me to the Bible. One of them…
I could go on and on. The point here is that those people changed the course of my life, and of my wife Jackie’s, and of all the people that work in our hair salon, and God–only-knows how many others. Those people made history, because they changed my life. Make sense now?
One and the same.
Okay, I’ll concede that “making a difference” and “making history” mean essentially the same thing. In essence, both translate to paying it forward in the lives of others, so what’s the big deal?
To be quite honest with you, the answer has nothing to do with what others may or may not receive from me. I like to think that I’m going to share what I have with others with the same passion and intensity, regardless of whatever “label” that I may put on what I’m trying to do.
The answer has to do with me, or more specifically, with my mind.
I don’t know about you, but I have a tendency to put more effort into doing the things that I perceive to be more important. It’s my own perception of what I’m trying to do that raises the bar for me.
In my mind, God gives me opportunities to share my testimony about my life before Him and now with Him in it because that what He wants me to do. And I want to approach every one of those opportunities, not from the aspect of just talking to someone, but with the expectations of improving their lives; of changing their lives. Making history.
The prospect of “making a difference” fills me with anticipation. The notion of God allowing me to “make history,” to changing the course of someone’s life the way that others did for me, puts a fire in me that cannot be extinguished. In the words of a credit card ad, the internal and spiritual rewards of making history are, quite simply put, priceless.
If you find yourself in a position to pay it forward, to invest in someone, to lift them up, to speak truth into their lives, or to share what God has done in your life, do both of us a favor and try it.
It may be an inconvenience, and it may take up some of your time, and it may put you out of your comfort zone, but believe me when I tell you that God will bless you for it in ways that you can’t begin to imagine.
So go on. Ask God to give you the opportunity to be a history maker.