Reggie McNeal: "Spiritual development does not occur in some kind of vacuum. It works its way out in these relationships that are part of everyday life."
Excerpted from Get Off Your Donkey! Help Somebody and Help Yourself
By Reggie McNeal (Baker Books)
A 2014 OUTREACH RESOURCE OF THE YEAR
Connect the Dots was one of my favorite puzzles when I was a kid. I really enjoyed watching an image emerge as I drew lines between the numbered connection points. Some puzzles had a few lines already drawn in, offering some clues to the ﬁnal object. Sometimes I could guess pretty quickly what I was drawing; on other occasions I was surprised at what took shape. No matter the case, I could proceed with conﬁdence because I was guaranteed to ﬁgure out what was initially hidden as long as I connected the dots the right way.
Of course, your life is a puzzle way more complicated than these childhood drawings. The dots are not always obvious, and they certainly don’t come sequentially laid out for you. But if you connect the right dots, you can ﬁgure out who you are, what you should be doing and what contributions you want to make—all the important issues that come together for a meaningful life.
The dots are the key pieces of your life that need to be connected. If you can identify them and ﬁgure out how they go together, you can move forward with conﬁdence that your life will come together. You don’t have to know the ﬁnal design to get started—that’s the point of working the puzzle! You just need to know that you are working on the right set of questions and issues that help you become the you that God intended.
In the chapters ahead, we will isolate and explore some of these key dots in your life. Discovering your life mission, clarifying what is really important to you, identifying what you are good at, ﬁguring out what you need to learn and building a scorecard that supports all of the above—I believe these are massively important issues that impact every area of our lives. As we investigate these key questions, you will not just get a better idea about how you can serve others with your life; you will also get greater insights into who you are.
Discovering We Are Built to Serve!
Recently I had a conversation with a young man who is mentoring school kids in the poorest and most crime-ridden part of his city. Talk about challenging! The apartment complex Harry works in has had multiple murders in the past 12 months alone. It took over a year of his being in that community for the parents of the kids to trust him. Harry spends at least 10 hours a week working with his own mentees. In addition, he is raising money and recruiting volunteers for an after-school program he dreams of establishing that will change both the destination and the destiny for the kids in this area. This young professional does all this on top of his work and family responsibilities. As I listened to his story, I asked him, “Aren’t you exhausted?”
He answered, “There’s good tired and bad tired.” Then, with a smile, he added, “My work with the kids is a good tired. This is what I am meant to do” (emphasis added).
You could no more talk this young man out of his engagement with this passion than you can halt the setting of the sun. I have known Harry for several years. I have watched him go through jobs and relationships in search of himself. Prior to our coffee shop conversation, I had lost touch with him for about two years. I was amazed at the transformation that had come over him during the intervening months. Some would argue that Harry is just maturing, and that is partly true. But I am convinced he has grown as he has gone beyond himself to be a person of blessing. Harry has come alive through this very challenging service to his community.
We are built to serve! The people I run into who are serving in their communities have a zest for life that spills out into every area of their lives. Conversely, people who stay on their donkeys miss the rewards of serving their neighbors. If we do not exercise our serving muscles, our souls will be undernourished.