Read an Excerpt
We all desperately want to leave an imprint. To leave things and people better than we found them. Yet we fear that the impact of our lives could more resemble a fist in the water than a handprint in cement. The handprint is there to stay.
But take the fist out of water, and for a brief moment there are ripples. Then the water settles and smoothes, as though our fist had never been there.
And so we dread the notion that, in the end, our lives might not count for much. That we might get stuck in a dead-end and thankless job that nobody notices.
That our lives might be spent cleaning up the messes of others, a vicious and never-ending cycle of futility.
Service with a Smile
Andy was building a new home. Today his construction crew was having an awful time with their subcontractors, supplies and schedule, as often happens in the building industry. Nothing was going right, the construction boss was frustrated,
and the men were grouchy. The weather was hot and humid, and the atmosphere clung like a wet blanket.
To add to the misery, the construction site's port-a-john reeked with odors that made the crew gag. The company that was supposedly charged with keeping it serviced hadn't been heard from for days.
Suddenly, blaring music began to drift through the air as a truck rolled down the street toward the site. The music seemed to fill the block with its rock beat, and everybody's attention shifted to the vehicle that slid to a stop in front of the partially completed house.
When the truck came to a halt, they noticed it wasn't the regular maintenance man who got out. Instead, it was a big burly guy, covered with tattoos, flashing a huge smile and singing at the top of his lungs. He greeted the entire crew with a contagious grin, grabbed his materials and headed-enthusiastically!-into the odiferous disaster. Just before stepping in, he yelled across the yard that the former man had quit, and he would be taking over… then he disappeared into the 4 by 4 cubicle. Rumblings began inside the port-a-john and grew louder and louder, as though he were attacking every inch of the relief station. It almost sounded like he was wrestling with a tiger in there.
Now there's only one thing worse than the smell of a port-a-john that hasn't been maintained well, and that's the smell of cleaning that same port-a-john on a hot and humid day. But this guy seemed to stay inside forever. Every man on the site wondered how he could stand it and thought of how quickly they would have raced in and out just to escape that stinking environment.
After awhile the crew noticed the stench had dissipated. Mr. Good-natured finally emerged with his smile still intact. "Hey," he said, "the guy taking care of this for you wasn't doing a very good job. From here on out,
I guarantee this will be the best it can possibly be, because I'm here to serve you." With that, he hopped in his truck, grinned, waved, turned on the blaring music once again (which the construction boss now recognized as a Christian radio station) and began to back out of the driveway.
Dumbfounded, one man yelled to the driver, "How can you do that? More important, why do you do that?"
"Oh, it's simple," replied Mr. Good-natured. "You see, I work for the Lord. And I do every task as though I were doing it for Him. See you next week!" And with a smile, and singing at the top of his voice, he drove away leaving a construction crew with their mouths on the ground.
Making life count. It's not so much about what you do as how you do it. And why.
And, most important, for Whom you do it.
Colossians 3:23 (NCV)
In all the work you are doing, work the best you can. Work as if you were doing it for the Lord, not for people.
Both of us (Bob and Randy) have looked for opportunities throughout our careers to tell others about our faith in Christ, what He has done in our lives, how
He has changed us, how we see Him working today. This deliberate and intentional sharing of our faith is what we call being on mission. It's a term that encompasses more than being in ministry-although that may be a part of it. It's a term that's broader than serving as a missionary-although that's also one aspect of being on mission. It means recognizing that the Great Commission is the responsibility of all Christians, not just those in vocational ministry. It's a very personal awakening to a great truth of Scripture-that not only do people in general need to know Christ, people around me need to know Him as well. And so on-mission Christians look for ways to share
Christ right where we are.
I thank God for my career changes. They've prepared me for coauthoring this book and for my position as president of NAMB. During an interview for this job, a member of the presidential search team put it this way: "In looking at your résumé, Bob, either you've made some of the dumbest career moves I've ever seen, or God has been preparing you for this role at every step of your journey." Our unpredictable twists and turns only make sense when viewed through the prism of God.
Nobody could make a bigger career change than going from a trial lawyer to a mission board employee, as anybody who knows a few good lawyer jokes can testify!
Some of my partners thought I was crazy for making the move, others said they already knew I was crazy but this just confirmed it. But the most puzzling reaction would come from fellow Christians who congratulated me for stepping into the ministry. "I was already in the ministry," I would tell them. "God just changed my mission field." Then they'd give me that Are-you-serious?
look-the wheels turning. The law practice-a ministry? Our courts-a mission field?
Matthew 28:18-20 (NCV)
Then Jesus came to them and said, "All power in heaven and on earth is given to me. So go and make followers of all people in the world. Baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey everything that I have taught you, and I will be with you always, even until the end of this age."
When Christ issued the Great Commission, He didn't emphasize the training the apostles had received, or the sermons they would preach, or even the theology they would embrace. Instead, He focused on a power that's available to everyone-from brand new Christians to seminary presidents. "But you shall receive power,"
Christ emphasized, "when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses…" (Acts 1:8, NKJV)
The power is universally available. And the call is universally
It is also nonnegotiable. You can't hire a pastor to take your place. This is not a mercenary army. There are persons who will see Christ only through you. There are skills that only you bring to this great task.
So whether you are paid to be good (a full-time minister) or are good for nothing
(the rest of us)-you are called to be a vital part of the Great Commission.
Eight Principles for Living On Mission
- God has been preparing a unique plan and calling for your life since before you were born.
- God calls you to a life-changing relationship with Him through Jesus Christ.
- God calls you to partner with Him in a life-changing mission that is bigger than you are.
- God repeatedly will bring you to crossroads of choice as He forges and equips you for His mission.
- God calls you to be on mission with Him right where you are-in your home,
in your workplace, in your school, in your church, and in your world.
- God reveals His mission through His Word, His Spirit, wise counsel, and
His work in circumstances around you.
- God guides you and provides for you to carry out your mission one step at a time.
- When you answer God's call and fulfill His mission, you inevitably will change your world.
You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.