I heard this story about a mid-west megachurch pastor
One sunday he announced to his large congregation, “We need a 4th grade boys Sunday School teacher.” By Tuesday, no one had responded, and then in walked an older gentlemen who mumbled, “I am here for the 4th grade sunday school teacher.”
The pastor looked at him excitedly and said, “Great, do you like to teach?” ”No” the man grumbled. A little perplexed, but still in need of a teacher, the pastor pressed, “Well do you like mentoring boys?” ”No” the man responded.
“Then what are you doing in my office?” the pastor wondered aloud.
“Well you said that you need a 4th grade sunday school teacher so I am here.”
The pastor took a deep breath, and then said, “What do you like to do?” The man quickly responded, “I like to fix cars.” Then the pastor thought about it, and said to him, “Well we have a lot of single moms in this congregation on tight budgets, and we have this empty building in the back of our lot. What if Thursday nights you were to open up that building and the moms could bring their cars to be fixed for free.” The older gentlemen’s face lit up at the idea.
5 years later, they have expanded their car ministry, renovated the building to have multiple bays, and have men serving out there every night of the week.
For many of us we’ve never been invited to consider what is our sphere of influence.
We shuffle into rooms filled with clipboards giving us specific “needs” to be filled. Suzanne Summers interrupts our TV viewing pleading with us to send just $1. By year’s end we survey a list of charities to give away our CPA approved nontaxable contributions. We donate a can of soup, hang drywall, usher, and teach 4th grade boys all because someone else told us to. We try to get by with just doing enough, but strangely it doesn’t satisfy this urge to be making an impact.
I believe that’s because we’ve never been invited to uncover what passion lays dormant within our lives. Fredrick Buechner says, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” However, We’ve never been awakened to consider the spheres of influence we inhabit. We simply go through the motions because a a volunteer recruiter with a clipboard told us to, and quite frankly that’s safer.
Its partly because once we start infiltrating those spheres, we discover that the need is far greater than we imagined (one man on Thursday night couldnt fix all the cars) and that can become overwhelming.
After the earthquakes in Haiti, researchers examined at what level do people start tuning out the need around them. When its 7,000,000 in need? 1,000,000? 500,000? 1,000? What they discovered is if charities introduced you to Rosalita who was starving, you would give. But as soon as you discovered that Rosalita had a brother who was starving as well giving would drastically reduce. This is because once we see a systemic problem we become overwhelmed.
The truth is we impact lives, positively or negatively, in everything we do. Whether it is life long friendships, brief business encounters or people in traffic. We bump into a myriad of people every day who are in need. We all inhabit these different spheres, the question is how are we impacting these spheres? Are they orbiting around our lives, or are we infiltrating into these spheres? Are we overwhelmed or exhilarated by the challenge?