In 2006, American traveler Blake Mycoskie befriended children in Argentina and found they had no shoes to protect their feet. Wanting to help, he created TOMS, a company that would match every pair of shoes purchased with a pair of new shoes given to a child in need. He called it the “One for One” movement. Blake returned to Argentina with a group of family, friends and staff later that year with 10,000 pairs of shoes made possible by TOMS. Since its inception in 2006, TOMS has donated over 1,000,000 pairs of shoes to children in undeveloped countries.
When I first heard this story I was so moved. There are so many incredible organizations created out there that provide services for people in need. But as inspiring as many of these stories are, the first step to making such an impact is studying our own lives based on what we do on a day to day basis. In fact, I did a survey in college for one of my education classes titled: “If there was one thing I could do more of with my life, what would it be?” While many said, “I would travel more,” “I would have more fun,” “I would spend more time with my family,” the most common answer on the survey was, “I would make more of a difference.”
In the L.I.F.E model, following happens to be one of the 8 F’s that the we encourage people to grow in; serving others seems to be a perfect fit for this category.
For a long time, I felt like I was on this treadmill of life; running as fast as I could but with no direction and getting nowhere. I never knew what it truly meant to serve others. In essence, everything I did that I thought was ‘serving,’ truly was for my own personal gain. There are two examples of people I see. There are those who remain in default mode – always serving without even thinking about it (like breathing). And then there are those that actually need to add serving on the ‘to do’ list. Meaning, they have to make an effort each and every day to serve. Many think that serving requires money. Actually it is completely opposite of that. Serving is an act of putting others before oneself. Opening a door, smiling, voluneering and having a vested interest in other people through the use of communication are simple servant acts that go a long way. One thing I needed to understand was true service is practiced but it is often unannounced. Jesus was a true living example of someone who was in default mode when it came to serving others. He was the greatest servant of all. In fact, He is the example we should follow when it comes to living a life of excellence by serving. To “serve” is actually a verb. It is an action word. The question I often ask myself is “how are you doing when it comes to doing?”
The next best present day example of a true servant is LIFE founder, Orrin Woodward. I believe Orrin has such an incredible following in leadership because of his humility and ‘default’ service mentality (with literally 10’s of thousands of people who mentor with and follow him). However, when he first started on the journey of building communities, my guess is Orrin had to put “serving others” on his mental to-do list. As human beings, God designed us to “…love our neighbors as ourselves…” Mark 12:31. Orrin once said on an audio, “happiness comes from serving others.”
Let’s say for example, we are standing on a shoreline and we see a person waving their arms screaming for help at a distance in the water. The natural tendency would be to “find help.” We wouldn’t just stand there and watch the person drown. But just imagine if instead of seeking out help for that person, we jumped into the water, got ourselves wet, and reached our hands out to grab the person and save them. The analogy says that, instead of passing the buck, hoping someone else will save the day, we get ourselves personally involved, risking our own life in order to make a difference. When a person’s life is dedicated to serving others, it is rarely glamorous.
Think about the soldiers who protect our country everyday and those that lost their lives serving in order to preserve our freedoms. The true heroes of our country that so often we take for granted, that serve in the line of duty risking their lives for us.
When it comes to LIFE, we are not asking people to risk their lives. Orrin Woodward and the rest of the founders have created something where, if you focus on serving others and making a difference, you will be monetarily rewarded. If you personally get involved in people’s lives because you love people, you will never have an issue with finances again. People love being around those who serve them. If you grow yourself everyday through a vehicle called LIFE, you will have an excellent life in all categories of the 8 F’s. What happens if we all start to serve, not for our own personal gain, but for the glory of God. What if we added service to our daily “to-do” list so eventually it went to default mode in our daily habits. What if 1,000,000 people in the next five years started to act as Christ-like servants on earth? We could change our culture and even change the world. Those of you who choose a life of serving, God Bless You, there’s no better significance! Everyone else, observe, it’s going to happen on your watch.
I heard a song recently by Josh Wilson titled I Refuse. I thought some of the lyrics would be fitting for this topic (I highly recommend listening to the song):
‘Cause I don’t want to live like I don’t care
I don’t want to say another empty prayer
Oh, I refuse…
To sit around and wait for someone else
To do what God has called me to do myself
Oh, I could choose
Not to move but I refuse To stand and watch the weary and lost
Cry out for help
I refuse to turn my back
And try and act like all is well I refuse to stay unchanged
To wait another day, to die to myself
I refuse to make one more excuse…
TEAM/LIFE focuses on making a difference on a large scale, currently an enormous percentage of funds from the community are donated to these organizations:
All Grace Outreach: http://www.allgraceoutreach.com/
The MORE project: http://www.themoreproject.org/