The other day, I was doing team building with 12 students from Kettering University. They were here at Grace for a leadership camp experience. 8 of the 12 were incoming freshmen, the other 4 were upperclassmen. I had them do the whale watch. The whale watch is a 10 foot by 16 foot deck that has a board underneath the middle, so it’s kind of like a big teeter totter. The group needs to climb on, go out to the edge and then switch sides while keeping it balanced the whole time.
My group worked very well together, planning and communicating. However, when they were almost done, one person climbed off before another person was in the exact middle, and suddenly the deck touched the ground on one end, so they had to start completely over.
As we looked back and discussed the experience, the Kettering students talked about how every person had a direct impact on the rest of the group. When they took responsibility and fulfilled their role the group had success. But one person could also negatively impact all the others. Then they thought about how they wanted to be purposeful as they started their time in college to make a positive impact on those around them.
As I was thinking about this, my mind flashed back to a few weeks ago. My neighbor growing up passed away. He was twice divorced, and hadn’t seen his only daughter in decades. He lived by himself. Rarely did we see anyone visit. He was a grumpy old man who hated kids touching his fence, complained to the nearby school, and built a fence inside a fence to keep them out. In these ways, he made a negative impact.
However, every time I went home to visit my parents and he was outside, I always made an effort to connect with him. He was always friendly to me. He asked me how working at Grace was going and asked about my kids. At his funeral, waitresses from restaurants he frequented, bank tellers that he brought donuts to, and some others showed up. My mother said to me, “It amazed me, how we all impact others.”
In Matthew 5:16, Jesus states, “In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they see your good deeds and glorify your father in heaven.”
I ask myself: what kind of impact am I making? How can I be a positive force for God? How can I influence others around me so that it brings glory to God?
- By Ben VanderKodde