I had planned to become a teacher.
I felt called to teach at the high school level: History, English, Spanish.
I would leave college with seccondary certification.
During my last semester of my senior year I was hired to teach in Florida.
Dream job. Or so I thought.
May came and I was informed of the teaching position I would fill.
A one-room school in Boynton Beach. Probably 8 students.
In grades 1-8.
I think I was a rather typical 21-year-old. Rather self-absorbed.
Something happened to me early in the first semester of that first year of teaching.
I discovered that my students mattered to me.
My mother had cared for other people’s children all of my growing up years. She treated them like they were her own. Give to meet their needs with little regard for her own needs.
Something she had instilled in me through her example took root in my spirit and began to grow.
I don’t recall a growing-of-the-tree named Teacher. It was like it exploded into my self, full-grown.
Forty-eight years later I left the classroom as my daily life.
What does it take to make a difference?
To meet the needs of others as a priority in my personal needs?
What if you didn’t have a mother like my mother?
What if, like me now, you are not 20-something?
What if you are not just starting out into the world?
I am now in my 70s. With another birthday this month.
I think there are some principles of making-a-difference that can be applied no matter your age.
1. Answer this question, in writing: What do you believe in? Create a list.
2. Look for a need outside yourself.
There are so many needs around us, right in our own neighborhoods.
Right in our own churches and schools.
Finding a need may result in overload.
The problem soon becomes, which one do I choose?
3. Get involved with an already-in-place opportunity.
State Farm Insurance has a program called Neighborhood Of Good.
One of their opportunities will likely fit you.
4. Be the person you wish to see in your world.
Begin where you are: You.
Set an example.
5. One Person Cared-for.
I was walking from the Garden Shop in Home Depot to the plumbing department. I had a question for an expert.
An elderly man in a motorized cart blocked my way. He was going full speed, which was a slow walk for me. I fell in behind him. He turned, saw me, and attempted to move to the side. There was no room for that.
I laughed and said, “Don’t worry! I’m in no hurry!”
We traveled that way until we came to an open area. He stopped. I came up beside him.
(Those of you who know me understand that I am not out-going.)
He remarked that items in his basket were marked one price, but the register in the garden shop had rung them up at a higher price. He was looking for a supervisor.
“My wife always hangs two fern baskets on either side of the fountain in our front yard,” he commented. He then kind of choked up and ducked his head. “Always hung,” he corrected himself. “She died in December. I just need to continue her legacy,” he said quietly.
I stayed there and talked with him (mostly listened) for a long time. “Tommy,” he introduced himself. He was lonely. After 50+ years of marriage he was unaccustomed to the condition of lonely.
I have his name and I will call him.
6. Each One Reach One.
Someone once said to me that if each person helped just one person we could reach every person in the world in a few months.
That detail is suspect.
Start with one. Look for an opportunity to make a difference in one person’t day.
Pay It Forward at the drive-thru, or the toll booth, or the coffee shop.
7. One Person Inspired
Your action may well inspire the one that you took care of to Be a Difference, too.
At work, at church, at the grocery or department store, at the restaurant, at home.
Especially At Home. Make a difference in the day of a family member. Maybe this could become a Family Adventure.
Caution: Don’t do any of this as a way to be recognized and thanked.
An Adventure like this will result in a Settled Peace within yourself. No fireworks. No applause. No awards or recognition plaques. Peace.
Is there a better reward?
Comments are appreciated.