During a mission trip to the Dominican Republic earlier this year, some pretty amazing things happened to me. And before the trip had ended, I decided to finally go ahead and get baptized…in the ocean, surrounded by my mission trip team. Some of them understood just how big a deal this was for me. They all understood why this was a big deal in a church sense, but that moment was bigger for me than the church sense. It had taken a long time to work up to that decision.
I realize now that trying to fix yourself perfect before getting baptized is like struggling on your own to get healthy enough to see a doctor. It just doesn’t make sense; but to be honest, I was surprised that Pastor Dave and Pastor Steve didn’t dunk me twice and shake me under the water for good measure.
In that moment, I made a promise to myself, to the world, and to God that I was on board with Jesus’ mission of sharing hope and adding value. And I’m pretty sure that God was responding back that I need to step up my game. In the weeks that followed I’ve struggled to put a frame around that, and I’m still not quite sure what stepping up my game looks like.
How can I make a difference in this world?
And there have been moments since where I have flashes of pure genius…followed by dismal moments of doubt. I’m just one person, after all. A seriously flawed one person, at that.
Just this morning, though, I was looking through my third-grader son’s homework, and I found something that inspired me to shake off some of that doubt. He recently took a test where he was asked to fill in the blank for the following prompt: “In the judicial branch of the Illinois State Government, I would…” He answered that he would “build houses, give money and toys to the poor.”
Sad to say, but points were deducted. His teacher responded, “Are these the responsibilities of the judicial branch?” She’s right of course, but if she wanted a specific answer, she should have framed her question specifically: “What are the responsibilities of the judicial branch of the Illinois State Government?”
But I digress.
Being a biased dad, I of course believe that my son’s answer is awesome.
It means that my son is paying attention.
And then a trickle of small memories poured through my mind. Some folks have asked if they can get involved in the next mission trip by donating money, needed items, or even their time as a team member. Still more random folks have asked me about my trip to the Dominican Republic.
“Where did you hear about that?” I asked. The response is usually that they heard about the mission trip from one of my kids. They’re proud of me.
And although the trip itself was immensely rewarding, the fact that my kids are proud of me is tremendously gratifying. They are paying attention.
Of course, the seriously flawed part of me wonders what else they pay attention to. I swear too much, I drink occasionally, and that I come up with incredibly creative insults while driving are just a few things that come to mind. But there I go, digressing again.
Because Lifeline Church’s mission of “sharing hope and adding value” is important to me, it has become important to my children. My older daughter has begged for me to take her on the mission trip next year. My younger daughter is trying to find ways at school to share hope and add value to children in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. And my boy, should he ever work in the judicial branch of the Illinois State Government, would build houses and give money and toys to the poor.
How surprisingly awesome is that?
So in that small sense, I am making a difference, and I can only hope that my kids will pass this part of me on to their kids. A friend of mine likens this to ripples in a pond. I love that visual, but my impatience knows that together, with all those touched by those ripples, we could make for one hell of a splash.
As I continue to brainstorm ideas for how to step up my game and advance the mission, I’m looking around our community. I’m looking at our neighborhood and our neighbors a bit differently. I’m asking “what does our community need?” I’m looking for opportunities, and I’m getting excited.
Anyone else want to join in on the brainstorm?