Monday, April 24, 2006

Making a Difference

As I was sitting in church yesterday, I realized that sometimes success comes despite our "mess ups" as well as because of our efforts and good intentions.

This all occurred to me as I listened to a friend of mine lead the communion talk at church. He was reflecting on his past and was telling how five years ago he was unable to stand before a group of people and speak. I remember that time. He had recently gotten out of prison and I guess he hadn't ever really spoken in front of people. Each time he was asked to speak, it was obvious how nervous he was. I remember how we all encouraged him, somehow knowing even then how much he had to offer the rest of us. Some of the people who I think were instrumental in his success have since "messed up." However, despite the fact that some of his "mentors" slipped, he continued developing--spiritually and mentally. Today he is an amazing man who speaks at church, ministers in the prisons, mentors friends, and loves people.

I also thought of another friend who recently relapsed into his drug addiction. He had been clean for quite some time, had gotten married and was a strong leader of our church. When our church membership had dropped dramatically and was struggling a few years ago, he recruited friends and family members to not only attend, but to lead the choir, play the organ, paint the church, clean up after everyone was gone, etc. Yet just last week, he "messed up."

In both situations, leaders "messed up." Yet, in both situations those leaders, despite their faults, had nurtured longer term growth that continued despite their setbacks. Too many times, I think we expect everyone--especially leaders--to be not mess up. And when they do, we kick them when they're down. We talk about them. We get disgusted at them. We leave them to fin for themselves in their biggest time of need. I'm not advocating that we excuse wrong behavior. I'm just suggesting that sometimes people know they've messed up

...real bad.

And sometimes what people need is someone to point out the things that they've done well...the footprints they've left and the legacy that continues because of them. And then we need to encourage them to get back up, dust themselves off, and get back on the right path.

I know I've made some big mistakes. However, it encourages me to know that despite me as well as because of me I have done some things right. It gives me hope. I need to know that when I mess up, I have a chance to redeem myself. God is much bigger than I am. In my good moments, when I have done something right, God uses those times to make ripple effects. People I have affected turn around and help others who help others, etc. I need to know that when I mess up, all is not lost. That gives me hope and gives me a reason to

get up,

dust off,

and continue.

Thank the Lord for grace.
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