The holiday season seems to accentuate our deepest fears and our truest beliefs. I have seen kids who barely have enough food to eat — collect food for the hungry. I have seen people with fancy cars and diamonds and 7 figure bank accounts — fight over who spent more on whom.
I think the biggest difference between the two examples is if one thinks of themselves as part of community and the world as a whole or they think of themselves as individuals.
What if this holiday season you moved up one level. We can go to the extreme of the relative who shows up to the family gathering with a bottle of wine — which they then commence to consume themselves. They are the first to eat though they prepared none of the food. They nap while the dishes are being done … to the other extreme of the relative who isn’t at the dinner table because they are serving overseas in the military or donning a hazmat suit to fight Ebola. Which of the above categories do you spend most of your time thinking about?
I propose this holiday that we each endeavor to move up one category and stay there for the year. And then the next year move up another category (unless of course you are motivated to move up earlier). If you’re already living most of your life existing to serve the greater good — you’re already living your passion — keep walking in Grace.
This doesn’t mean you will necessarily change jobs or homes or even people you associate with — although it may. An example of the categories may look like this:
Individual Teacher — teaches the core curriculum does a fine job getting kids through the test, stays after school to make sure hers/his students succeed, goes to faculty meetings and parent-teacher conferences.
Family Teacher — all of the above but brings in apples because kids are hungry, goes to the school nurse to get shoes for a kid because their’s are falling apart, sends a sympathy card because a student’s grandparent died…
Community Teacher — all of the above and shows up on Saturday to help clean up the school grounds, keeps in contact with kids after they are in college to give them support, brings in public speakers to the classroom, organizes mentoring between teens and senior citizens, gets kids involved in community service.
World Teacher — all of the above and fundraisers to build wells in Africa, community service with the kids in a community hit by natural disasters or impoverished towns, telecommunication with students from other countries…
This would work with any profession and certainly any person or any activity. Take litter:
Family — helps relatives with yards and recycling.
Community — organizes events to clean up parks and streets.
World — takes the message outside of their own community to reduce/reuse/recycle/refuse.
Here’s a TED talk with an example how one man used his talents first as an individual and progressed all the way to giving the world his gifts.
There is no judgement as to what category you find yourself in today. The question is are you willing do what is necessary to achieve your purpose and share your gifts with an ever expanding group of people? Or will you be content to keep them all to yourself?