When I was in elementary school, I couldn’t wait until I was in middle school because I could go to church youth group and invite my family, friends, and community, including those who didn’t go to church.
Week after week, I’d pull up the old corded phone and start calling the friends in my address book asking if they’d be coming to youth group. Over time, youth group and its associated trips to the lake, camping, and Six Flags were packed with people, many of which were invited (or harassed depending on who you ask) by me. Will you join us, I'd ask.
In fact, one of the times I was most upset with the church came as the result of a misunderstanding about someone attending one of our trips. Thankfully, a leader in the group stepped in to rectify it.
Once my wife and I returned from our honeymoon years later, we packed up everything and moved from Arizona to Atlanta, Georgia.
Until we had many kids, we returned to visit friends and family. On one of our trips back to visit Arizona, the former leader, who stepped in to rectify the situation mentioned earlier, made a statement that would stick with me and accurately reflect the value I provided to the community.
“Jason, you were the bringer of people."
Consistently, I invited people and they showed up. But after I left, there wasn’t someone rallying the troops and it was felt by the church and my community.
When he first told me this, it was encouraging. But at the same time, that part of me had been stifled and disappeared after moving to Atlanta. I wasn’t living out this forgotten strength and ability, and his words acted as a reminder and direction for moving towards becoming the best me.
Knowing what people lost when I was gone gave me an appreciation for the value I freely gave to others. Many times we take for granted our strengths and how we contribute to our work, home, and community. This moment of reflection built on contrasting situations helped me get clarity on what that was.
So, what about you? When you're gone, what do people miss? Are you living out this strength in your life today?