What does it mean to be engaged? What would it be like to make the most of every opportunity in life?
I'm sure you've heard about getting involved in charity, social justice, short-term missions, and humanitarian efforts. And about how being involved in such opportunities will most likely change you more than you can ever imagine. But have you considered that no matter how much you give, you'll receive more than you gave?
What does it mean to be engaged in what God is doing in and around our world? It begins with a mindset focused on whose we believe we are.
Think about it:
It's been said that what you do or don't do demonstrates who you truly are.
So often we excuse our actions, or inactions, with how busy we are. We'll forget the birthday of a friend or family member, and it's easily excused. We'll shoot off that oh-so-familiar story about how we thought about sending a card or making a call but we were just too busy. Then the other party will most often excuse the inaction with the cliché, "Well, it's the thought that counts." But that's not true! I mean that's not how we really feel. We'd much rather have received a card or a call instead of some thought that never resulted in any sort of action. Right?
So, what would happen if we turned those thoughtful ideas into genuine actions? What would happen if our mindsets were more focused on others than ourselves? What would happen if we truly lived out the fact that it really is not the "thought that counts" but the action?
Are you ready to be engaged even if it means being anonymous and sharing a mere ten words of hope about that place of healing you know about? If so, here are some places to start getting engaged:
1. Your backyard. Ask your pastor how you might be able to help lend your gifts and talents to the ministry - clean the church, help in a small group, work with the children, or participate in media, arts, music, visitation, and so on.
2. Your neighbor's backyard. Look at local and national organizations that are demonstrating engagement in God's kingdom work in your community, such as The Salvation Army, a local soup kitchen or homeless shelter, or Nazarene Compassionate Ministries.
3. Global neighbors. Spend your school break serving in an orphanage in Africa, building relationships with unbelievers in Italy, or offering a specific skill or ability you might have in graphic design, construction, teaching, photography, or even journalism to a new start church or compassionate ministry center in Asia.
If you strive to, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind . . . and love your neighbor as yourself" (Matthew 23:37-39 NLT, paraphrased), I have no doubt that you'll naturally be engaged no matter your circumstances.
You are not too young. Be encouraged by what one mentor said to his mentee: "Get the word out. Teach all these things. And don't let anyone put you down because you're young. Teach the believers with your life: by word, by demeanor, by love, by faith, by integrity" (I Timothy 4:11-12 TM).
Therefore, go and point beyond yourselves to Him through your living.
Tim Whetstone is a former missionary to Italy and Singapore, and is now a pastor in Pennsylvania.