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See, Then Be, the Change

August 2, 2021

Here’s a story to get your mojo going today. 

Two guys are talking about their boss's upcoming wedding. The first guy says, “It's ridiculous! He's rich, but he's 93 years old, and she is just 26! What kind of wedding is that?” The other says, "Well, we have a name for it in my family." "What do you call it?" said the first guy. "We call it a football wedding." The first guy asks, "What is a football wedding?" The second guy says, "She's waiting for him to kick off!"  

Assuming those two men are correct, that woman uses the boss as a means to her own end. She is subtracting rather than adding. She is taking away value rather than adding value. Conceptually speaking, she is the tick, and he is the dog. But, if that man lives long enough, they both might end up with two ticks and no dog. (I couldn't resist that.) 

I like to use the concept of “plundering” and “populating” in explaining this phenomenon. The Spanish Conquistadors came to Latin America for two reasons: self-adulation, and to plunder the gold and treasures of the land. They were not interested in populating the land. They were interested in plundering the land. Their mindset was conquest rather than contribution, domination rather than transformation. As the 26-year-old woman in the story above, Spain, in those times, used Latin America as a means to its own end. That was a lose-lose for both Spain and Latin America. 

Now, I'm not critical of Spain; I love Spain. They brought the gospel to Latin America. Almost all European and Asian political powers in the 15th to 17th centuries did the same thing. That is just what one did in those days. However, let's make sure we don't unwittingly do the same thing to Glendale, Peoria, North Phoenix, West Phoenix, London, Singapore, Johannesburg, or wherever! 

Whether we are in business, education, media, church, arts, sports, or government, please understand that we are here to "populate" the community rather than "plunder" the community. We exist for the community rather than the community for us. Generally, if we build our community, our community will build us, assuming we have sufficient integrity, vision, and a good skill set. 

How do we build our community? Let's look at the ancient Scriptures, the Word of God, and see if we can get some wisdom today. In Jeremiah 29:7, Jeremiah says the following to God's people living in the faraway city of Babylon: "And seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you in exile (to be a part of) and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare, you will have welfare.” 

The word for "welfare" in Hebrew is shalom. Shalom means completeness, wholeness, health, welfare, soundness, prosperity, tranquility, fullness, perfectness, rest, and harmony. It's where you say farewell to welfare! 

Wisdom from this scripture says three things. First, pray for your community. Why? Because when your country or community does well, your finances, business, and career will do well. The success, or lack thereof, in our careers and lives could reflect how our country or community is doing. If our city is underachieving, the chances are our business will be affected and maybe even infected. We might be OK, but not as good as we could be. A rising tide helps all the boats float.  

Secondly, work together with others to build your community. Be as committed to finding a remedy as finding fault. People who complain and blame are usually on the plundering side of life. If you don't like your community, change it! How? From the inside out, not from the outside in. Be a participant, not a critic. That's what Jesus did. Jesus, the Ultimate 'Solutionary,' wore blue jeans and got involved. Jesus offered real solutions rather than complaints about the obvious. Your community can be better because of you!

See, then be, the change. Seeing the change is like opening the door to see what could be. Being the change is like walking through the door and building a better city. There's a difference between a social change agent and a social justice warrior. Social city changers say, "Look, there are no wheelchair ramps into that building. Let's build a ramp!" Social justice warriors say, "Let's persecute the people using the stairs and make them feel bad for having legs." Critics are primarily non-participants.   

Finally, give back to your community. How? With your time, your treasure, and your talents in an objective and tangible way. For example, if you make a profit from the community as a business owner, be sure to give some of it back to the community. Don't plunder the community. Populate the community. The idea is the contribution, not the conquest. It will take some time to see the change in most cases but consider this: We overestimate what we can do over a year but underestimate what we can do over ten years. Sometimes we need to give time, time. 

Someone once said, "True heroism is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost. It's the urge to serve others at whatever the cost." Consider being the change. Could it be, all your life, you were only waiting for this moment to arrive?

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Ed Delph is a leader in church-community connections.
Visit Ed Delph's website at www.nationstrategy.com