Sometimes I think that “gifts” or “giftings” are overrated. Whether on the big screen, a public stage or in a small country church, those who are on stage still tend to be the ones revered above others. Our culture esteems the public gifts – those of song or dance, athletics or acting or a variety of other performances that require a stage.
In a world of social media and talent ‘going viral,’ posts on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram are often closely monitored to see how many likes, shares, comments or retweets they receive.
Well aware, I am here to contend for, esteem and brag on all those people whose gifts are quietly offered behind the scenes, away from the lights and without an audience. For the record, it is not because there is not an audience. More often than not, it is because they would rather remain unseen and/or anonymous.
This summer, I learned of a paid position with the title “Center of Influence.” I asked about what that job entailed and have to say, I am incredibly blessed to be surrounded by numerous people who are the center of influence in their families, jobs, churches and communities who go above and beyond that job description. They have no title and receive no pay. This year, they surrounded me at every turn as I faced extremely full days that turned into weeks and months. As I write, the year is over and we are about to journey into 2017.
We just completed our third full year of Laundry Love in Salina. A growing number of people quietly show up to hang out in a laundromat for a few hours each month in order to meet and help their neighbors. Here, individuals become community. It can be downright inspirational.
It’s amazing what can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit.
This summer, Salina Shares hosted “Summer Fun” in a small park in a neighborhood that we have grown to love. It was instigated by a young business owner, who, together with his wife, decided they wanted to give back to our community. He asked that I draft a letter that he could take to other businesses to try and get donations. I emailed him the letter and he called back with changes. First change: take his name and his company’s name out of the letter. This will be a Salina Shares event, he said. I was surprised and impressed.
The day of Summer Fun, nearly 40 people showed up to volunteer their time, doing whatever needed to be done. Volunteers consisted of business owners, social workers, teachers and many other capable, professional, and more importantly, kind people. They are all influential in their own corner of the world, yet I don’t know of many who have ever received applause from their customers or students. Another 10 people who were not able to be there, helped however they could ahead of time. One made homemade, natural bug spray and bought small spray bottles to give to others to keep mosquitoes at bay. This one kind act would never make it to a stage but is the epitome of generosity and empathy. All are worthy of the applause reserved for athletes and entertainers.
St. Augustine said, “Find out how much God has given you and from it take what you need; the remainder is needed by others.” Many of us are in the process of doing this. I have not yet found a way to thank those people who have surrounded me this year, willing to give up part of their portion, in order to meet the needs of others. I am, however, very grateful to each one who does their part, without a stage and with a smile.