Category: Culture

How you made a difference today, and didn’t even realize it

Photo by Kampus Production on Pexels.com

Everyone knows how badly teenagers want to go to work, how they crave entry-level hourly jobs, and how they long to work in the food service industry. Yep, you’ve picked up on my sarcasm.

American teens are dreamers, and weren’t we all at that age? We wanted to create something, start a trend, build the next big thing, have friends and find adventure.

Depending on your generation, you either worked to build the fastest car, start the biggest rock band, conquer Super Mario Bros., or create the next internet sensation. Flipping burgers? You only did that because you had to.

So, when I dropped my teenage son off at his fast food job, I told him, “You are doing meaningful work today.”

He looked at me a little funny.

“Seriously, you are going to be the bright spot in someone’s day.”

His look became more inquisitive.

“Look, there are people that will soon begin their drive home after a long day. Others will be looking to spend time with family, and others will be eating to find comfort after hearing bad news,” I said. “And they will be coming into your restaurant to find what they are looking for. Feed them well, and be that bright spot.”

“Thank you, Dad,” he replied.

“It takes a special person to undertake the work of feeding people. I’m proud of you.”

He shut the door, entered the restaurant, and I drove off.

Okay, now that I read my own words, it looks a little sappy. Either that, or I just penned the latest “Family, isn’t it about Time” commercial. Nevertheless, I meant every word.

I have recently documented my recent health struggles, so I’m not endorsing emotional eating. However, I will tell you that on more than one occasion, the right fast food clerk, and the right kitchen crew have offered me relief on some dark days. Furthermore, they have fed me on a quick schedule when my time was short. And I appreciated their efforts every time.

Our kids are taught to aim for the stars, to seek careers where they can make a difference, to find meaning, purpose, and significance. They are taught not to settle for menial jobs, but to aim for greatness. Indeed, we want to encourage our kids to reach their full potential, and for most, that’s probably not in the kitchen of a fast food franchise.

But, if everyone is an astronaut, president, physicist, technology pioneer, and entrepreneur, then who will serve our food? If everyone is leading the next great social movement, who is caring for the patients in the nursing home? If everyone is discovering the cure for cancer, who is stocking the grocery stores?

If everyone is a teacher, who is cleaning the restrooms? If everyone’s a doctor, who’s filling the prescriptions?

You see, for our society to function, we need people in every role of our workforce, and our society will become great when every member of our workforce, from the service sector, to retail, to medical, to manufacturing, see their value and the importance of their work.

And the greatest companies in our society realize their role, and communicate their value to their workforce, who then reflect that conviction to their customers. That is why companies like ChickFilA and In-N-Out hold such high esteem in the fast food market, despite McDonalds having more locations. That’s why Whole Foods is such a revered brand, even though their prices are routinely higher than other grocery chains. That’s why Southwest Airlines is successful, despite having none of the frills of the other airlines.

These companies understand the role they play in our society, their inherent value, and they confer that value on their staff, who then internalizes it and represents it before the customers.

So, if you’re reading this, and you work in a fast food restaurant, you made a difference today, and you didn’t even realize it. You either did your job well, and were a bright spot in someone’s day (if so, congratulate yourself), or you did your job poorly and added to someone’s frustration. Either way, you made a difference.

If you’re reading this and you’re a CNA, then please know that you are probably the most important person in a patient’s care. Remember that, and bring them comfort.

If you work in a grocery store, you can greatly encourage someone who may be struggling emotionally, or may be feeling lonely.

If you are a doctor, you can save lives. If you are a lawyer, you can save freedoms. You get the point.

The point is, no matter what you do, you matter. And no matter what role you fill, you are needed, and you are valuable. And no matter what kind of day you’ve had, you’ve made a difference.

Therefore, as we perform our job duties today, let’s employ the words of the Apostle Paul in Colossians 3:23, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.” Because when you work, you’re not working for your manager, the shareholders, or even the customers. You are working for God, and His will for you is to do good to others.

May God bless you and encourage you in your work today.

Who through Faith…

Why do we think of faith as an abstract? And why do we doubt the power of faith?

It makes no sense to downplay the importance of faith, nor does it make sense to doubt its power, not with so many tangible examples of how faith has changed our nation.

Today, our nation honors the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who through his faith forever transformed our nation from a society of systemic racism and segregation to a nation that aspires to live up to its founding principles.

It would be naive to say that we live in a post-racial America, and I believe that there is still much to be done to achieve the racial healing and reconciliation of which Dr. King dreamed.

However, it would be self-defeating to fail to recognize the progress that has been made, and the cause of that progress.

Dr. King was motivated by a dream, a dream built on the foundations of his core convictions, which were born of his faith.

That faith was in the God almighty, and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To deny this is to deny the sermons Dr. King preached at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church, or his belief in the power of Agape love to not only bring about racial equality, but reconciliation as well.

To deny Dr. King’s faith as his motivation is to deny an entire paragraph of his “I Have A Dream” speech, which states, “This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with.

“With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.

“With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.”

To deny the faith of Dr. King and to deny the scriptures as the source of that faith is to deny the Biblical imagery that defined his speeches, whether the carving of the stone of hope from the mountain of despair, to the mountaintop Dr. King said the Lord took him to, allowing him to see the promised land.

To deny the faith of Dr. King is to deny his optimism, fully communicated in his speeches, which came from his belief that God would bring his dream to fruition, even if not fully realized until the coming of the Lord.

Dr. King’s legacy of racial equality, national repentance, and racial reconciliation cannot be denied. Neither can the faith be denied which moved him to lead this national transformation. Faith in the Lord brings amazingly great things.

Hebrews 11:33 says, “Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, and stopped the mouths of lions.” Hebrews 2:20 says that faith without works is dead. In other words, faith motivates action, and when faith motivates action, great changes happen.

As we remember and celebrate the accomplishments of Dr. King, and the transformation he led America through, let us not forget the faith that birthed it all.

Furthermore, let’s remember that the next great advancement in our society, whatever it may be, will not be born from a desire for significance, a desire for change, or a change at the ballot box. The next great advancement will come when the people of God act on their faith and carry God’s amazing message to the people.

With this faith… we advance.

The Jesus Revolution

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Seriously, listen to any Billy Graham sermon from the 1970s, or any J. Vernon McGee sermon from the 1960s, and you will find the same issues being addressed from the pulpit.

The breakdown of the family, the rise in sin and immorality, an up and coming generation that seems unreachable, with a lifestyle and value system that seems incomprehensible, a deeply divided country, civil unrest, economic uncertainty, and foreign threats… these are all issues that plagued our country back then, and they are issues that haunt us now.

The upcoming film, Jesus Revolution, depicts how the ministries of Chuck Smith and Greg Laurie were revolutionized by the introduction of Lonnie Frisbee. Smith is depicted as struggling to establish Calvary Chapel in California as a Biblical-centered congregation, who struggles to understand the hippie movement of the 1960s. Smith then meets Frisbee, who encourages him to engage the marginalized youth and preach the Gospel to them.

History records what followed as The Jesus Movement, recorded by Greg Laurie in his book Jesus Revolution. There was a revival among the Hippie communities of California, which sparked a new wave of evangelism and worship music. The result was countless converts, the rise of Calvary Chapel as we know it today, and contemporary Christian worship music.

Jesus Revolution is a film based on a true story, it is not a documentary. How the film will tackle the controversies surrounding Smith’s ministry, Calvary Chapel, and Frisbee’s issues with sin have yet to be seen. All are worthy of discussion as we come to a fuller understanding of God’s grace and redemption.

However, the theme of the movie appears to be how the Gospel of Jesus Christ is exactly what our dark and deeply divided nation needs to hear, and if we are willing to reach out to those whom we fear or don’t understand with the Gospel, souls will be saved and lives will be changed.

In essence, if the church of God will re-center itself on the Gospel and return to the mission of God, which is the preaching of that Gospel throughout the world, who knows what kind of revival we may see in our day.

Like our forerunners in the 1960s, we face a rise in sin and immorality, a rise in Godlessness, a rise in darkness and division, with an up and coming generation with a lifestyle and values system that scares the very generation that brought us the hippie movement.

Our options are simple. We can, like Kelsey Grammer’s depiction of Chuck Smith early in the film, sit back on our couches and complain about the direction of society. Or, we can, like Jonathan Roumie’s depiction of Lonnie Frisbee, reach out into that darkness with the light of the Gospel and show a lost generation that God’s door is open to those who repent and believe.

My prayer is that we do the latter, which is why I am excited about this film. I hope it inspires our current generation of churches, and a new generation of churches to truly commit to, and do, the Great Commission.

The World Needs More Christine McVies

Christine McVie, 1943-2022

It was the spring of 1998. Stevie Nicks had rejoined the powerhouse rock group Fleetwood Mac, and together the band recorded a live album (The Dance), performed a concert for PBS, and went on tour. Arenas sold out across the nation, and a band who had broken up, reunited, performed with only a partial cast, and was nearly 20 years past their prime suddenly were relevant again.

Make no mistake about it, had it not been for Stevie Nicks rejoining the band, those arenas would have never sold out, The Dance would have never happened, and Fleetwood Mac would never have re-emerged.

However, without Christine McVie, Fleetwood Mac would have never happened in the first place. They would have remained some obscure blues band lost on the streets of London in the 1970s.

During The Dance tour, the spotlight was on Nicks. However, on the left side of the stage, behind the keyboard, was the driving force behind the band’s success. McVie not only wrote many of their hits (Say You Love Me, Don’t Stop, You Make Loving Fun, Hold Me, Little Lies, and Save Me, among others), her vocals and keyboards were part of the sound that distinguished Fleetwood Mac from other groups.

Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham were both in the spotlight, but either one of them could leave (and they did), and the band could go on (and it did). You could place anybody at base guitar, and no one would miss John McVie. And while Mick Fleetwood’s personality behind the drum kit was very noticeable, truth is you could place any professional drummer there and keep the sound of Fleetwood Mac.

However, remove Christine’s lyrical prose, harmonious voice holding the sound together, and soothing keyboard notes, and you’ve lost Fleetwood Mac altogether.

What makes Christine McVie so great, and unique, in the music industry was her ability to blend into a background role, and to cherish that role. In an interview with Sirius XM, she once stated “I never saw myself as a solo artist.” She understood her role in Fleetwood Mac, how it was key to their success, and she relished it.

One of the hallmarks of the music industry of the late 70s and early 80s were the artists who would leave successful supergroups in order to strike out on their own, and put their own name and image out there. Nicks did it. Buckingham did it. Belinda Carlile (The Go-Gos) did it, as did Ozzy Osbourne. But for McVie, she was content to keep the supergroup together and going. In fact, her forays into a solo career only came with the absence of Fleetwood Mac.

And that’s why I think the world needs more Christine McVie’s. We need more people who are happy to work together to build wonderful things while doing great things, for the good of others as opposed to pursuing the endless goal of self-glorification. We need more people who see the importance of their role and fill it, as opposed to begrudging the fact they don’t have the spotlight. That’s what we call “humility.”

And we need more people stepping up to make real contributions to society. Yes, the world needs more Christine McVies.