I know a local businessman whose love for people cannot be hidden.
His faith, humility and generosity fuel his leadership. His altruism leaks, it’s not manufactured. He has cancer. He is naturally, deeply positive. I am anxious that if I see him, he’ll see right through my forced optimism.
And I wonder how I make it all about me.
I did not know a pastor who made national news recently, tragically taking his own life. He seemingly worked tirelessly advocating for mental health and suicide prevention. I read and re-read the Instagram post from his wife, showing a video of him playing with his children only hours before he was gone.
I’m heartbroken for his family. I’m sad for his church. I wonder why I’m not doing enough to help others.
And it becomes about me.
Singer/songwriter Dave Matthews opines, “[we] wake up ... making plans to change the world while the world is changing us.” I wrestle with whether I’m using my God-given gifts, if I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing, living on purpose. Or, if in the midst of all my planning, the world’s simply churned me into it’s machine. Am I just a producer feeding the system, building my nest egg until I realize it’s gone. The movie’s ended and I’m the only one left in the theater.
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Christian rap artist KB provokes, “In the beginning ... we would give anything ... you could take everything you just give me the King—But the fire faded—I just wanna retire with savings—Are you the safest when the world [is] loving you or had enough of you? Who’s in more danger: the persecuted or the comfortable?” Am I in danger? Because it’s about me.
Yet, when I begin to lament the what-should-have-beens, I sense something else. A softer, louder voice. It says you aren’t in control. The notion brings great angst. And freedom. They say you can’t feel fear and joy simultaneously. I can feel angst and freedom at the same time. If I’m not in control, then it’s not up to me. But, if it’s not up to me, it can’t be about me.
And that’s the point. It’s not about me.
The local businessman has changed my life, and he doesn’t even know it—I should tell him with urgency. The pastor sadly surrendered himself while savings others, I pray his families know the ripples into eternity he has made in his efforts to help others. As for my purpose, I need to continue to redirect my focus from inward to outward. It’s never about me.
I write a note at that the top of my running To Do List at work. The yellow legal pad reads, “Build people, not companies.” If I start there, with the person in front of me, can I go wrong? Refuse to make it about me. Author Daniel Pink writes about creating your life sentence. Mine continues to be, “Matt loved God, served others, deeply valued time with his family, and ultimately found life to be enough.”
Is that enough?
I enjoyed a great night at a concert with my family. Singer Jen Ledger talked between songs about her battle with anxiety and fear. In the subsequent song, she sings, “I’m still awake—I won’t go away—It’s gonna take more than you can bring—Calling my name—Heaven is calling my name.”
It’s that still-small voice, whispering our name, calling us to one-more-round. We’re more than we believe we can become. It’s hope in the storm. Faith in the midst of doubt. “I may be broken—But I’m not done—I’ll go on fighting, while there’s breath in my lungs.” (“Not Dead Yet,” Ledger). There is always hope. Because it’s so much bigger than me.
Matt Tuckey, @mtuckey, is a husband, dad, volunteer and business development director in that order. He writes for The Sentinel about the intersection of life and faith.