Yep, missed it completely. And no, it wasn’t too much celebratory Champaign.
We were moving into our new home and throughout both Christmas and New Years when everyone else was partying we were packing and unpacking.
Cardboard boxes replaced the crystal ball drop marking the passage into a new year.
Luckily that means I also missed the resolution-making frenzy. My only resolve was getting that last darned box emptied.
With the job completed, I have had a bit of time to sit by the lake and reflect on my belated beginning to this new season. In the quiet moments watching ripples on the water and hearing the song of my new bird companions, the year ahead has come into a bit better focus.
Rather than aiming to do something different, I am resolving to make a difference.
I don’t want this year to be focused on getting thinner, smarter or holier…although I’d like each of those to happen along the journey.
When the next glittering ball drops announcing a new year, I want to know I have made an impact in the real issues of real lives with real needs.
Difference makers are history makers…they help change what is into what should be by getting their hands dirty in the messy work of transformation.
Now I know it sounds as nebulous as a Miss America contestant calling for world peace, so I did some thinking about what it takes to make a difference. I want to know what I should set my heart on and my hands to each day so that divine fingerprints are left behind when I am done.
Looking at the lives of those who open doors and alter futures, there are some common characteristics clearly on display. These are the traits I must pursue if I want to make a difference in my little plot on this planet.
- Compassion–this is caring with focused attention. Not simply a tug in my heart that feels a hurt, but a movement of my resources to fill that need. Not just excitement, but engagement. Heart-felt, hands-on love.
- Creativity–this is curiosity with a distinctive purpose. It is a willingness to have my mind teased enough that I have to see what it is up to. When my instincts are aroused that something should be done, my mind becomes fertile to receive from God the answer in seed form. Downloaded from God, down-to-earth dreaming.
- Comradery–this is partnership with like-minded people. I know I won’t make much difference with only my ideas and resources. Relationships with other people who are dissatisfied with how things are and hope-filled for how they can be is what brings dreams from mind to market. Hand-in-hand, iron-sharpening-iron allies.
- Courage–this is movement in the face of risk. There will be much discouragement both in the start and along the path of this journey to impact, but destination is never reached by planning alone. At some point the scales must tip in the direction of ends over means. Leap-of-faith, go-for-broke chances.
- Commitment–this is decision-making with determination. There is no mistaking talking for doing at this juncture. I am the pesky player incessantly demanding on the sideline, “Coach, put me in!” Roll-up-the-sleeves, get-in-the game action.
If I pursue these characteristics with resolve, I will surpass any resolutions I concoct to make me feel better about myself.
I think this process was behind Jesus’ words, “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” (Matthew 13:44-46)
Growth in these key impact-zones isn’t about merely setting goals or adjusting priorities. It is about seeing the extraordinary opportunities disguised as the ordinary people and experiences in my daily.
I can only make a difference when I see the future through the lens of hope and live toward it with singleness of purpose. This requires that I be aware and willing. My eyes have to be open to what is underneath the surface of my ruts and routines. Then my heart has to have the “yes” bent.
Opportunities are present in the stuff of each day. But they pass in a blur unless I am intentional in my heart and missional in attitude.
I’m not down on resolutions. I just want to see and do more than dust up who I am by tweaking what I do.
I want more. I want this year to be characterized by…
Leaving a mark.
Forming a legacy.
Changing a life.
Making a difference
After all, making a small difference for others will make a big difference in me.
In the end, that is the resolution I desire most.