We each have something special, unique, and remarkable about us. Call it a built-in gift, capacity, or perspective that has real power to influence the world around you. Many of those things that make us special are not uncovered right away, but over time. Our sense of purpose might emerge after a hard experience and our skilled ability to channel our passions might come after a lot of practice. Eventually and in wonderful ways we discover that we have something to share, something to do, and a purpose set out before us.
Artist Bob Ross spent most of his career in the military and it wasn’t until some 20 years in the service that he felt called to teach others to paint. Today he is legendary for his wispy hair and gentle brush strokes that has invited millions of people to try painting for themselves. He has painted more than a few “happy little trees.”
Julia Child is known for her cookbook, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” and went on to be a household name. She was kind and quirky, and endeared millions to the art and joy of cooking. She served as a spy in World War 2, but she decided to instead take up cooking and wrote her first cookbook when she was 50 years old.
Colonel Sanders had a lot of jobs from insurance sales person to firefighter, but it wasn’t until he was 62 that he started his first fried chicken restaurant, and the rest is Kentucky Friend Chicken history. I even had a chance to visit the birthplace of his restaurant empire, a city that is proud of Sanders and his legacy in their community.
Each of these people, and many of us, take time to discover the things we are deeply passionate about. While we might not be interested in cookbooks, friend chicken, or painting, we each are on a journey to discover how we are uniquely gifted to step into our communities and share our passion with others, and for the betterment of others, around us.
Besides developing skills, which for many of us take years, there is another important piece of the puzzle. We need others to point out in us the things they see growing in us. Over the years I’ve had people point out in me the gifts that I have, the things I am passionate about, or the skills I have been working on, and they have helped me see how they connect to the world around me. Sometimes my fear makes me think that what I have, or do, is not useful. It takes a good friend to help us see otherwise.
Frederick Buechner said that “your vocation in life is where your greatest joy meets the world’s greatest need.” The world needs what you bring, the thing that makes you come alive, and it takes courage and the affirmation of others to know how and when to share our greatest joy with the world’s great need. It might also take a small moment to point out the beautiful gifts you see in others.
Today in this Covid-19-tired world are communities and neighbourhoods that need your great joy, your deep passion, your build-in gifts and nurtured skills. The thing you do so naturally and so joyfully might be just the thing our city and your next door neighbours need from you.
The community is calling and you can be brave to share what you have. As we give it seems to me that we might meet those whose great joy will meet our great need, too.