I saw someone post on Twitter the other day that their pastor made this statement, “Sometimes we set alarms and think THAT is the reason we wake up…” Think about that for a moment. Are you as WOWed as I am by that statement?!?! I’m a firm believer that if you are breathing the Lord has a purpose for your life but do we live each day with our “mission field” in mind or do we coast through life going to work or church or social activities with little thought to the legacy we leave behind or why the Lord woke us up that day?
Maybe you are just working through your current stage of life until you can get to the place you feel that you are meant to shine. Maybe where you currently stand is not your “dream”. Maybe you know you can make a huge impact with a different job or in a different city but you just can’t seem to get there. But... what if you decide the Lord knows best and wants you to make a huge impact where you are right now? What if you aren’t in your current job for YOU but rather for someone else? What if a chance interaction with you changes the trajectory of someone else’s life? What if the way you smile and show patience when you have a waitress who has too many tables and is running long starts a chain reaction of sunshine all around her?
Think of a person that has had a lasting impact on your life. A teacher, neighbor, pastor or stranger. Personally, I have MANY people come to mind. Some were in my life for extended periods of time and some literally passed through for a moment but each took the opportunity to leave a legacy.
I think of my 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Munn, who made learning SOOOOOOOO much fun! I was always aware that she made me look forward to going to school every morning but I’ve come to realize after 10 years in education that she literally shaped my current classroom and methods. For example, when we discuss the impact of each decade on business I feed my kids something from that decade like 1960s molded Jello salad or SPAM from WWII. Yes, this provides a great teaching opportunity but it also creates excitement and buy-in with my students. They love food days and trying the weird options or realizing how “not new” Oreos are in the grand scheme of things but why do I spend my money and time to do something that isn’t required of me? Because twenty-five years ago Mrs. Munn let us create atoms with graham crackers, frosting and M&Ms. I never enjoyed science and I’m not sure I could label an atom now but I loved Mrs. Munn’s science class because she made it relatable and fun! She helped me understand that having a thirst for knowledge could be exciting and learning didn’t require reading an encyclopedia.
I also think of the blonde lady who sat behind me one Sunday in 1997 and told me she thought I looked cute and enjoyed hearing me sing every Sunday. What that nameless lady didn’t know is that in 1997 I was in 7th grade and it was the most MISERABLE time of my life to date. I cried a lot of mornings getting up for school and cried a lot of nights going to bed because I was told how ugly and fat and worthless I was by my peers. I went from loving school to wanting to quit. I stopped eating lunch because I was “mooed” at in the cafeteria. I stopped wearing cute outfits to school because I was made fun of for “trying to fit in” and I quickly learned that it was best to fade into the wallpaper because people didn’t harass those they couldn’t see.
Don’t get me wrong, I knew my family loved me and thought I was beautiful but in the mind of a child that often seems like an obligation so when this random stranger said her lovely things to me after the service she gave me a little hope that made getting dressed for school that next Monday morning not as difficult. She also instilled in me the impact kind words can have on others. That was over twenty years ago but I still try to thank the under appreciated and let others know when they look great in a suit or when they have a skill that my go unnoticed. It takes five seconds to say, “Your hair always looks so cute like that” or “You are just amazing at running the front desk. I truly appreciate all you do” but I know the difference that can make when all the other comments coming in are negative or hurtful. I have no idea if I ever saw that lady again but I know the Lord had our paths cross for that moment and for the impact it continues to have on my life because I use this technique with my students, especially the ones like twelve-year-old me, who may feel a little out of place. I compliment handwriting and cat ears and Harry Potter backpacks. Doodles on the tops of test papers and Rotel dip brought to parties and bright blue eyes. Anything that these kids can take personal pride in at that moment and you know I now have kids I taught two years ago who come by my room to show me their prom dress or a picture they drew in art or to tell me about their new job at McDonald’s. I want them to feel that have value even if they only see it in something trivial at the moment because the world isn’t telling them that!
With all this being said, It’s easy for me to say my “mission field” is my classroom but I know many days I show up and do exactly what is required of me by my principal and not what is required of me by my God. Several years ago I did a post on Esther 4:14 (August 2017) and finding your purpose in your current season. To me this verse still rings true because I know that the all-knowing, all-powerful God was not shocked one day when he looked up and saw me sitting in a classroom at Oak Grove High School nor is he amazed when I walk into the Branded Bible fellowship class every Sunday. He put me where I am with the people I am with for a mission and a purpose. He is not a God of happenstance but a God of intention so I can assume I should be intentional as well.
So, as this new school year begins I am going to make a deliberate effort to view all my happy little classroom challenges as intentionally given to me by the Lord rather than unfortunate battles I must survive while trying to live out my purpose. I’m going to work to remember that maybe every situation in my life isn’t totally about me but may in fact be working for someone else’s benefit and most importantly I’m going to remember that the God of the universe felt me worthy to be trusted with these students, family, coworkers, church family and strangers. I should use the opportunities he has given me for His glory and my joy!