“I consider myself an average man, except in the fact that I consider myself an average man.”
—Michel de Montaigne,
There comes a time when you realize one of two things. Either you’re just like everybody else or you’re special. I know, everybody is special in their own way. But let’s be honest, there are some people who excel, make a bigger impact or leave a larger mark on the world around them. This isn’t a negative thing, just a realistic one.
I’ve noticed a string of similar images and ideas coming at me in the recent weeks. They revolve around that one thing: Impact.
How do we impact other people? Who do we impact the most? It’s a test in perception and self-awareness. People don’t necessarily see us the way we see ourselves. That could be good or bad. For the chronically self-conscious, it’s good. For the self-involved, kinda bad. Sometimes it can be hard to distinguish between the two types.
During our recent volunteer fire department fundraiser, my husband and I had the chance to make some new friends from Tennessee. One of the bands spent the week in the area and as things sometimes work out, we ended up befriending one of the guitarists, his wife and kids.
One late night, we spent a few hours talking about the real things—family, relationships, kids, work. As we talked about their traveling, their everyday life back in Tennessee, and their impression of central Kansas, they mentioned their son didn’t understand why everyone from here was so interested in meeting them.
“Nobody even notices us back home,” he said.
And his parents explained, “That’s because they know us there.”
Away from home they seem more mysterious with a little celebrity factor thrown in.
Isn’t that the way it is, though? Anytime there’s a new face, we wonder what their story is. That’s the joy and curse of celebrity. They’re intriguing and we overlook the fact that they forget to buy Q-tips like the rest of us.
So if a person from another state or culture can seem more interesting and worthy of our attention, does the same go for charities?
There are many charities that do good work with our money. It’s just as hard to justify giving money to one needy child over another one as it is to get upset about someone for giving their time or money to a country, state or county other than our own.
I know people who have been “called” to these larger causes. Apparently that’s just not in the plan that has been laid out for me or for all the others like me who answer to an alarm clock and a mortgage company.
So, what’s left for us to do?
Plenty. In random conversations in the past three weeks I’ve heard of people who have money to give and people who need money given. They just don’t know each other.
The local schools need hand sanitizer to combat the flu season that’s soon to set in. There’s no money for it in their budget. It will probably come down to the staff buying it on their own and stocking up the classrooms.
If each family who could donated a handful, they’d be set.
A local group my husband belongs to has money in their budget that they’re required to give away. They have no idea where to put it. When I heard about it, four or five organizations immediately came to mind.
A friend of mine works in a position where she sees firsthand how many needy people live within a 30-mile radius of us. She asked me how I felt about missions work and I told her I admire the people who do it, especially as my own a niece just returned from a nine-week missions trip to Kyrgyzstan.
I have no doubt the people she left behind are better for meeting her. She knows her purpose and she has made an impact. I couldn’t be more proud.
Still, the local families in need right here will never be the focus of a youth missions trip. Missions trips normally involve traveling. Donations are needed for everything from supplies, food, lodging and transportation.
In the big picture, the needs in these desperate countries may outweigh the level of need over here. That’s why not all of us are destined to travel abroad to serve. There’s a need for impact here, too. If you don’t know who’s in need, just ask around.
My boss explained this concept well: “You don’t have to know how to do everything, you just have to know somebody who does.”
In the same spirit, you don’t have to know who needs the help, you just have to know somebody who knows.