Do you ever wonder: Am I really making a difference? Am I just going through the motions of life?
Or perhaps you can strongly relate to what George Bailey’s character went through in It’s a Wonderful Life – you’re beyond frustrated that you just can’t catch a break and will never “get ahead”?
I came across this quote on Instagram from author/speaker Jon Gordon several weeks ago that continues to resonate in my mind:
Just heard that on average one person will influence 80,000 people in the course of their life. Enough to fill a stadium. But remember even if you influence just one person you are a Leader! Choose to be a Positive Leader and make a positive impact.
80,000 people! Thinking about the stadium example – I categorized the people in the seats into three groups:
- The Dissatisfied – These are the people who don’t like the game, have bad seats, feel that they paid too much, sit next to the guy with the foam finger or has the shrieking whistle that numbs their hearing. Overall, the game was a rotten experience and they probably won’t come back. Translation: Think of times I’ve been rude, too busy, hypercritical, hurtful, selfish, and negative. Sometimes we can go back and ask for forgiveness. Unfortunately for others – it was just a one time encounter, or the hurt runs too deep. Hopefully, this group doesn’t take up a lot of seats.
- The Satisfied – This group of people enjoys the game, had an excellent view of the action, were present in the moment and felt they got their money’s worth. Translation: People we’ve shown love, selflessness, and kindness to – Family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and strangers. Being nice to the waiter even though they were nervous and brand new. Showing patience as one of our children works through the challenges of life. Giving someone an unexpected gift for no reason other than love. Sometimes it is the smallest gestures that can make a major difference that we don’t even realize. Hopefully, these folks fill up the majority of seats.
- The Fully Immersed Fan – They showed up early to tailgate, bought a truckload of souvenirs, and stay until the end whether their team is winning or losing. Some were so influenced by what they experienced – they want to financially invest in the team beyond just being a fan. Translation: People we’ve impacted not only because we showed them love and kindness – but also that we help set their life on a new and positive trajectory. A teenager with a low self-esteem you encouraged to pursue their dreams. An unknown person freed from human trafficking because you gave financially to an organization. A child who was given hope towards the future because you sent a small shoebox with Christmas gifts. Maybe it was a friend you just sat with and said nothing as they went through the process of losing a loved one. Hopefully, our stadiums are packed with these people.
Over two decades ago, I was on maximum overload. We had a new baby and a teenager, I was teaching full-time, taking graduate courses, and valet parking on evenings and weekends. It was New Year’s Eve – and the last thing I wanted to do was valet park for all the people out having a good time and celebrating. Around midnight in a cranky and exhausted mood, I pulled up a gentleman’s car. Getting out – I hoped he would give me a few bucks as a tip. He said, “Thank you for working tonight.” He then proceeded to hand me two twenty-dollar bills (which was a fortune for a tip over two decades ago). My energy, attitude, and perspective changed because of his generosity and empathy.
I’ll never know who that man was. But I’m sitting and cheering in his stadium.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith (Hebrews 12: 1-2).