Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Rate of Return: A new year, a new beginning.

Have you ever found that God will use any and all means to speak to us when He wants to get his message across? Sometimes He even uses a preacher! I have to give props to my pastor Bruce Venable for drawing my attention to a story in the Seattle Times about Leon McLaughlin. McLaughlin’s story is amazing.

After a trip to Mexico, and an unlikely incident with a bathtub full of water, McLaughlin committed his life to providing fresh water to every person in the world. Surprisingly, he has had great success. Now partnering with World Vision he is on task to install his water filtration system in all 59 countries where World Vision works.

This is no doubt a feat that anyone would be proud to accomplish, especially while holding down a nine-to-five job. But even more amazing is that McLaughlin’s nine-to-five job is shining shoes! His downtown Seattle shoe shine stand serves as the corporate headquarters for his ministry; evident by the pictures from around the world above his stand.

The beginning of the year is no doubt a time to refocus our lives on that which is important to us and some things not so important that we feel necessary. Close to 50% of all Americans will make some sort of New Year’s resolution. Many will quit smoking on January 1. Even more will commit to exercising and loosing weight. Others recommit to reading their Bible or following a tight budget.

My New Year’s resolution is to increase the rate of return on one investment. The investment – me. The investor – God. The return – what I do with that investment. God has blessed all of us (or invested in us) with the ability to make a difference. For me personally I yearn, as Ralph Waldo Emerson put it, “to leave the world a bit better.” I’m sure I’ve used this quote before so you will have to forgive me. However, I feel it is still relevant. In his book The Call, Os Guinness says, “Deep in our hearts, we all want to find and fulfill a purpose bigger than ourselves…For each of us the real purpose is personal and passionate: to know what we are here to do, and why. But, nothing short of God’s call can ground and fulfill the truest human desire for purpose…Calling is the truth that God calls us to himself so decisively that everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have is invested with a special devotion and dynamism lived out as a response to his summons and service.

I’m inspired by our shoe shining friend (I may even try to get a shine from him one day and pick his brain). Here is a guy that could be content shining shoes for $5 and boots for $8. Instead he shines shoes so that he can change the souls of others (I know, cheesy!). He has obviously found his true calling and in doing so he lives it out with a “special devotion and dynamism” evident by his “summons and service.”

Thank you Bruce and Leon for showing me what it means to follow His call. Now if I can just do the same. I know it will be a challenge. Only 60% of Americans keep their resolution past the first month. Close to 45% keep them six months. However, as my wife has tried to impress upon me, “this is not a ‘diet’ but rather a ‘lifestyle’ change!”

Blessings to you as you seek to make a lifestyle change. Aspire to new heights.

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