*Disclosure: I realize human beings are complicated and to define ourselves by “one” particular thing may not only be a difficult task, it may actually be impossible. But before you run off screaming, please allow me to make a brief point…
Sometimes I have the feeling we are trying too hard to do too many things at once.
To survive in the twenty-first century often means we have to be efficient multi-taskers. For an easy example, as you read this, how many other tabs do you have open?
I believe we try (and try too hard) to be all things to all people. I know I am guilty of operating this way. I want to be self-sufficient and capable of handling anything. For years I used to live by the motto, “Be able to do all things, and do them well.” Maybe in doing so I pushed help away that I needed, or missed encouraging others to do some things that would have helped them. People are unique and different from one another. We should remember that we all have strengths and blind-spots, and not beat ourselves up about it. Rather, we would do well to remember we are not good at everything, and neither is anyone else.
Have you discovered “one”* thing that you could share?
What is your passion, your interest, your expertise, your unique perspective that can help the rest of us figure out life in this fast-paced, multi-dimensional, too often distracted twenty-first century world we live in?
Are you sharing that “one”* thing with others or keeping it to yourself?
I think we would all be better off if we capitalized on opportunities to help one another by utilizing our strengths, rather than continue to dwell on our deficits.
I recently read a story by Naomi Shihab Nye where she reflected on helping a woman at the airport. This woman thought her flight had been cancelled because she did not speak English. Naomi spoke her language, utilized “one”* thing to help this fellow traveler, and made a new friend in the process. (Read it here at David Kanigan’s blog, Live & Learn , 11/16/2014. Online available: GATE A-4 By Naomi Shihab Nye). That does not mean Naomi’s only attribute is a gift of in the knowledge and use of language, but in the moment, that “one”* thing made all the difference.
How many new friends do we miss making? Good things happen when we take time to pay attention, overcome our fears and risk sharing “one”* thing with others.
Organizations also have unique gifts to share within larger communities. As it is with human beings, that doesn’t mean we have only one task to perform or one perform particular function or have to limit our definition of the work we do together. But seeking a focus to our work and gatherings can determine how we go about our business and how we measure what we do. A focus can help us sort what new projects we take up or pass on and can help us determine why we are doing any of them in the first place. A focus can also allow space for those holy moments like Naomi experienced, because we are able to listen, discern and act. When we are focused on a mission and/or purpose we also have a greater ability to operate with an openness outside of ourselves.
As a pastor I used to think that each church should be able to stand on its own regardless of how it interacted with others, but I have come to see that every congregation offers something unique to the town or neighborhood in which it resides, within its denominational affiliation or network, and within the body of Christ as a whole. Again, just like each of us as individuals, our communities of faith bring a particular value and voice to those around us.
Let go and be freed of the burden of trying to “do all things, and do them well,” and instead focus on what you value and do “one”* thing well. If you participate in a group like a church, do you know what your faith community’s “one”* thing is or could be? If you don’t participate in a community like “church,” what do you think might be “one”* thing they are missing?
Maybe it is your voice.
We don’t have to be all things to all people. We come as people created in God’s image to be creative and add to the beauty of the diverse world around us. Let’s listen to one another and cultivate a focus to utilize the strengths we each bring to the conversation for the greater good. Maybe then we’ll move towards the possibility of what good can happen around us, and like Naomi, join in. Who knows? You may even make a new friend.
Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot would say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear would say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many members, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the members of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and those members of the body that we think less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our less respectable members are treated with greater respect; whereas our more respectable members do not need this. But God has so arranged the body, giving the greater honor to the inferior member, that there may be no dissension within the body, but the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoice together with it. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. (1 Corinthians 12:14-27)