Friday, June 17, 2011

First responders

Who's the first responder at your house? Who is the person who jumps up to take care of things when milk spills, the toddler tips over, or the car gets a dent? Or, who thinks up wild schemes and forces you out of your comfort zone?

Depending if assistance is asked for, a helper can be perceived as welcome or annoying. Some people demand such control over everything in their job title that it's impossible to add to their boxed-in view of "expertise." They may do a good job or even be great at part of their work, but they'll never reach full potential because they grab on tightly, hollering, "THIS IS MINE! Back off!" Funny story: I watched a grown man stomp his foot in public just like a toddler, frustrated over something he perceived with ownership rather than partnership of ideas. Very astonishing, I admit. (And not impressive to a mother of four kids. I was happy he didn't throw himself on the floor in a tantrum. HAHA) He proved to everyone watching that he was neither a team player nor a trustworthy partner. In one instant, I lost interest in his work and the ideas he would offer me.

In contrast, creative designers come alongside with new thinking. Ideas from coworkers and alums rated as one of the best parts of my former job as alumni director. Sure, we can't always do "the dream." And many of us have to ignore "smaller" and "tightly controlled" offers to gravitate toward "bigger" thinking. God gave us such different worldviews and experiences that we benefit by valuing each other rather than shivering in fear that "our" project will be ruined by others' participation.

It's great to have someone on the team who blows our "that's-how-we've-always-done-it" out of the water. They may not be the one you scream for when the house is on fire. And not everyone reacts right away; some people need more time to ponder. Those individuals act as counterweights for impulsive go-getters who would constantly get stuck on a high wire without a balancing pole.

When your work is in the doldrums, when you feel boredom creeping in, when life as usual seems bland, find those inspiring persons. They won't mind if you tell them you probably won't use 90% of what they come up with. They love ideas for the sake of thinking and talking. They enjoy exchanging possibilities and impossibilities almost equally.
Jesus talked about the different ways people comprehend, embrace, or reject the gospel. He said some people never "get it." They miss the point of the gospel altogether, so the offer of salvation gets whisked away before they realize what they've missed. They're safe but blind. Others add Good News to a heaping menu of activity, only to lose it in life's shuffle. 

Yet there are a handful--oh God let us be like them--who respond wholeheartedly. Though Christian life runs against our human nature, though we don't understand God's ways, and though the journey overflows with bumps and challenges, such people open themselves to God at work. Such responders embrace the gift of faith, knowing following Jesus is not easy, not risk-free, and not comfortable. Sometimes it looks entirely different than what we planned.

And from such willing hearts comes fruit that remains to bless those around them. 

Read more:
* This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah that says, "When you hear what I say, you will not understand. When you see what I do, you will not comprehend. For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes—so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them."

But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but they didn't see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn't hear it. 

Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds: The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don't understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts. The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don't have deep roots, they don't last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God's word. The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God's word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced." Matthew 13:14–22 NLT

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