Most Sundays I wear a long-sleeved shirt to church. Before the morning is over though, I have rolled them up—especially this summer. It’s hot in Middle Tennessee! As we move into the school year & the season begins to change, our attention at Mt. Carmel turns to growing to be more like Jesus and serving others. If you ask me, one can’t separate spiritual growth from ministry to others. As we grow in our love for God, we grow in our ministry to others.
This past week I participated in the Global Leadership Summitt, sponsored by Willow Creek Association of Chicago and cast by way of satellite all around the world. One of the guests was Blake Mycoskie, a thirty-three year old entrepreneur. He founded Toms Shoes, a company committed to offering “one for one”—a pair of shoes to a needy child for every pair sold. Google it and check out the story. It’s a good one—a nice reminder that any of us can do what we do—for the sake of the kingdom—to make a difference.
I don’t know about you but I long to accomplish something worthwhile in my lifetime. I think that’s true for every generation. We all want our lives to matter. Hellen Keller once said, “I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.” That’s our aim at Mt. Carmel. To grow into all God intends us to be, to matter in our community, and to do it one step, one person, one family, one need at a time.
I read the story of an older woman who heard a sermon encouraging her to ask God to show her how she could use her particular gifts and situation to minister to others. She thought about her gifts and realized that she’d been told by others that she was a good hostess. She thought about her situation: She lived alone in a small apartment near a major university and had afternoons free. She thought about the needs around her, about what sorts of people tugged at her heartstrings, and pictured the dozens of students nearby who were so far away from home. She hit upon an idea.
She wrote on a stack of three-by-five cards the following words: “Are you homesick? Come to my house at 4:00 p.m. for tea” and included a phone number and address. She then posted the cards all around the campus, and after a slow start, homesick students began trickling into her life. Some ten years later eighty pallbearers participated in her funeral. Each one of them had been a student who, once upon a time, found a hot cup of tea, a sense of home, and the gospel of Jesus in the loving presence of this simple woman.
What are your gifts? What’s your situation? What are the needs around you? And how long do you think it would take for a lot more people to become intrigued with the Church if even 50% of us who claim to be Christ followers resolved afresh to be love with its sleeves rolled up for someone in need?