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Something small, even a single cluster of flowers, can have a big impact. (Photo, SueBE, Missouri Botanical Gardens, 2012)

Ever since Lori wrote her post about finding our Mission in life, I’ve been thinking. What is my MISSION? It sounds so big. So important.

The problem is that I don’t feel like I’ve got something this monumental going on. Have I missed my Mission?

Then I saw this quote from Mother Teresa. “We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”

Let me repeat that. Small things with great love. It bears repeating because many of us underestimate the value of these small gestures.

Recently, we had a new singer join our church choir. As talkative as I can be, I am an introvert. When I’m not in the mood for people, I’m really not in the mood. Sadly, her first night there was one of those nights. I’d arrived early, looking forward to a few quite moments, but she was also early. With a sigh that was mostly in my head, I managed to make chit chat and welcome her to the group.

Choir isn’t all work. We take our music more-or-less seriously, but we also love to laugh and are always kidding around about something. In one of these moments, our new singer made eye contact. Should she laugh or shouldn’t she? As soon as we connected, she broke into a huge grin. She was, after all, a part of the group.
All it took was a little chit chat and our usual inability to be serious for very long. None of it huge, but big enough to keep this teen coming back to us on a weekly basis.

Small gestures can mean a lot. And so, I repeat.

“We cannot all do great things, but we can do small things with great love.”

Small things add up to make a great impact in the lives of those who need to feel God’s love.

–SueBE

The Blues Brothers weren’t the only ones on a mission from God — we all are. The difficulty lies in finding your mission. No one is going to hand it to you in an envelope marked “Top Secret.” The tape will not self-destruct in three, two, one…. You must discover your mission on your own. Well, not exactly alone. But we’ll get to that in a bit.

Your job is unlikely to be your mission, though it can be, especially if you are a teacher or doctor or nurse or police officer or firefighter — any profession that serves, often with personal sacrifice as a built-in job requirement. For all the rest of us, our mission is separate from our occupation. So how do we find it? And, perhaps more importantly, why should we care?

Ever feel like there’s more to life than what you’re living? Ever wonder what you were put on Earth to accomplish? That’s where “mission” comes in. Call it a calling. Call it a quest. It gives life meaning, purpose. It gives us a reason to live.

Think of the things that matter most to you. Perhaps your mission is to be a parent. Maybe you’re meant to advance humankind in some way. When it comes to mission, size doesn’t matter. All missions are sacred. And that’s why you’re not alone — God is in it with you. Grace, freely given gift, will guide you to your mission. Only don’t expect a knock on the head. “Mission” demands to be deeply felt. To see what the exterior of your life should look like, you must go interior. Pray, meditate. Feel your way forward.

And don’t expect to see things mapped out for you. Missions must sometimes be taken in baby steps, groping forward bit by bit. As long as we continue to push ourselves forward, we are on the right path. My mission, as I see it, is to move closer to God, to walk with Him through the written word. Gift plus intention equals mission.

So…what is your mission?

Everything I ever needed to learn about service I learned from the New Testament. From John 13, to be specific. It is the Last Supper, and Jesus washes the feet of his disciples, despite their protests. And in doing so, He demonstrates what it means to be a leader: A leader serves.

That’s right. In fact, the more power you have, the more of a servant you ought to be. I used to work for a busy catalog company. The CEO was required to view every catalog page before it went out the door to the color separator. Because our deadlines were so tight, this meant he often had to sift through 50-100 pages in one night. Sometimes while he was on vacation. Or traveling for business. Or laid up in bed with an injured knee. But he never complained. He knew what it meant to be a good leader. In this case, it meant kowtowing to the demands of a lowly editor. He did it gladly. It was good business, and it was good leadership.

People talk about mankind being the overlords of nature. We have ultimate power over the natural world. Is there a better or more loving way to think about this concept than in the light of Jesus’ teaching on leadership? We should serve the natural world. Care for the smallest and mightiest of God’s creatures. Kowtow to lowly worms. Because that’s service. And that’s leadership. Think about it.

“You call me Master, and Lord. And you say well; for so I am. If then I, being your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that as I have done to you, so you do also.” John 13: 13-14.

When I worked at a pharma company years ago, there was a policy of providing employees with two “volunteer” days per month.  We would literally show up for work, put on an Orange “Company Volunteer” shirt, get in the van and go out and do work in the community.  It was really a good feeling to be able to give back so concretely, and have the company support us in that way.

Once, we tore out wall-to-wall carpeting and painted the living room of a home for unwed mothers.  Another time, we sorted clothing to be given out to the homeless.  I’ve also volunteered on my own through the years for many different charities and organizations – so many that, for a while, I kept a separate resume with just the names and dates of my volunteer service.  After some time, I stopped keeping track.  I wasn’t quite sure who I was saving the information for… maybe for my son, so he’d realize the importance of giving back.  But to be honest, just as he doesn’t share my faith, he doesn’t share my philanthropic impulses either.

So why do we engage in acts of service to humanity?  Does God expect it of those of us who profess to walk in faith?  There is a biblical passage that negates this notion.  “For by grace are ye saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves:  it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.”  Ephesians 2:8-9, KJV.

Followers of Islam are exhorted to do good deeds during Ramadan, and in Judaism, there is an obligation to help others, “Tzedekah.”  Most religions make good works central to their practice.  But what does God have to say about the subject?  This morning, when I asked God, He said, “Use your best judgment.”  Not really.  But it is what I’m going to end up doing, as I do with every subject too big for my tiny human brain to fully comprehend.  I’m betting that what God would say is that I already know the answer innately.

Every time I’ve volunteered to help somebody else, I ended up helping myself.  Even if I’m just encouraging someone to follow a dream, I get something out of it – a sense of being able to give someone a pat on the back on the road of life.  They’re not asking me to sponsor them as they learn how to sculpt or do interpretive dance.  Maybe just an “attaboy” or an “attagirl” as they pursue a dream they’ve always harbored and held dear.  It only took me a moment, but I know that service to humanity is service to God, and when I help my fellow man, I help myself, and get closer to my Maker in the process.

So I say, reach out when you can.  It may not be mandatory in God’s eyes, but it’s a blessing that you get to give and keep at the same time.

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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