Our Opportunity of a Lifetime

 

Nancy and I have been blessed with what I believe are the underpinnings of a fulfilling life: a shared faith, good health, a strong family, and opportunity, both personally and outside of ourselves—the opportunity to make our community and country a better place.

 

Like many of you, I suspect, the church was there during at least one critical point of inflection, some moment of truth, when our faith sustained us through a period of difficulty; or it simply affords us the strength every day to confront real life. That’s what’s kept me tethered to the church for 35 years.

 

But as the evangelist Dr. Tony Evans reminds us: When you realize God’s purpose for your life isn’t just about you, he will use you in a mighty way.

 

We support the church’s activities not from a biblical “tithing” sense of obligation as much as lending what resources we can to this, and other organizations, that give a hand up and provide opportunity to others who need a lift and consequently can also make our community and country a better place.

Our business and personal worlds are hopelessly entangled. In both we have to answer whether there’s value in what we’re doing. Does it matter? Are we making a difference? Are we effecting any real, meaningful change? Are we building a strong foundation for something bigger? Is there a multiplier effect that ripples out across families, the community or country?

I  majored in Journalism and read about Edward R. Murrow who had a credo, “Our obligation is to not mistake slogans for solutions.”

So that’s a lens through which we look at our life’s work – will this make a meaningful difference and offer folks the opportunity to improve their lives?  And by giving those people an opportunity to enjoy a more fulfilling life and success can they in turn have a positive impact on others?  I think that was at least an undercurrent of the book “Unbinding the Gospel” that many of us recently read.

We helped found an organization last year, In The Name of Grace, that will open 20 homes for recovering addicts and alcoholics by 2020. That will help over 200 men and women, and their families, transition from the bondage of addiction. The operative word is “recovery” so they can return to “safe” jobs and then meaningful work that’s possible only with the clarity of sobriety and safe, sober living.

The Church offers each of us an anchor, and a beacon of hope—a faith foundation on which we might propel our own life trajectory, and through our own transformation, change the life trajectory of others. 

 

That’s the partiality with which I look at the church – through worship, faith development,    fellowship, and outreach ministries, we can each find our own clarity of purpose and, collectively, God can use us in a mighty way.

That is an endowment to which we can all contribute.

I found inspiration and motivation from a quote from Marianne Williamson that Mike Vaughn shared with us a few months ago:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful   beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us.  We ask ourselves,’ Who am I to be brilliant, attractive, talented, and fabulous?’  Actually, who are you not to be?  You are a child of God, and you are meant to shine.  We are all meant to shine, as children do.” And if I may add, to shine that light and our blessings on others who will magnify it a hundredfold.

This church gives us, you, an inner strength that enables us to support its ministries with funding and energy, and leadership that touches scores if not hundreds of people through Hillcrest,  Family Promise, Fuller, and the Food Pantry to name a few—ministries that offer that “hand up” and the opportunity for those folks to shine. My business has thrust me into the world of behavioral health.  And what I see with Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, our youth program, vacation bible school, and Heartland Camp opportunities for our kiddos to shine and instilling in them the values and resiliency that will allow them to be the bedrock of our future.

So my appeal to you is to pledge and contribute generously to the church in whatever currency you have – time, work, money —  not necessarily because we’re obligated in any way;  but    because it is the means for us to be fulfilled and to make a real, sustainable difference in our own lives, for the person sitting next to you, and throughout our community.

Doug Ballou