Last night I sat down in a chair at the front of the room and nervously looked out at 30 people facing me. All of them in this room, in this house, on this night, because of me. And I had no idea what they were about to say.
1 month and 10 days ago I lost my job as a college director at a large church in Los Angeles. The church was struggling financially and needed to make some difficult decisions. Eliminating my position, along with 3 others, was one of those decisions. Tough news to hear. And it came on the heels of a difficult 6 months of doubt and insecurity about my ability to do my job.
The church was a large, thriving church with dynamic leaders, ministries, and Sunday worship. And I had begun to compare the larger church experience to our college group experience. And they seemed much different. It was small. It didn’t feel like it was thriving. I was almost certain that its leader was not dynamic.
But last night, I heard a different story. Those 30 people, in that room, in that house, were current students, former students, volunteer leaders, and staff members I have worked with for the last 3 years. They had surprised me. 6 weeks after leaving my post, they had all shown up at this church-member’s home to share one more night together. The first hour was full of laughter, memories, and food.
And now, here I sat. And they were all staring at me. They had just been asked to affirm me. To tell stories, share experiences, and recall moments with me that might have impacted them. And as I sat there – after a difficult season of uncertainty in ministry – I truly did not know what they would say. Or if they would say anything. I was nervous and self-conscious.
And then, one-by-one, they shared how God had used our ministry together to change their lives. How Jesus had become a real friend. How they had heard from God for the first time. How they had felt new freedom to serve God with their gifts. How they were encouraged, challenged, embraced, convicted, moved, and loved by each other – and yes, by me.
All I could do was sit still – look them each in the eye – and whisper thank you. Out-loud to them, and silently to my Father. I was humbled and moved. And I offered Him the praise He deserved in this moment. For changing lives, and for allowing me to be part of it.
As it turns out, our ministry was not small at all. And thriving and dynamic it was. And I was humbled and disappointed in myself for thinking otherwise.
I tell this story for this reason – the little things matter. They matter a lot. The things you do, in the name of Christ, for the benefit of others that you think are little – are not little at all. They change people’s lives by drawing them closer to the Savior you know and love and serve.
There are very few moments – if any – in life when you are forced to sit and humbly listen to encouraging words from those you have impacted. It just doesn’t happen. It will likely not happen to me again. But I relay this story to you, not as a reminder that what I did was important, but as an passionate encouragement to you – WHAT YOU DO MATTERS.
Every time you love – every time you are honest – every time you listen – every time you smile, serve, touch, forgive, teach, lead, empower, witness, accept, embrace and speak to another person at home, work, the bank, Starbucks, the grocery store, church, Macy’s, the inner city, or a foreign country – it matters.
Jesus is using you. He is loving others and calling them home – through you. And nothing about that is little.
My hope is that you and I, whether or not we ever have the embarrassingly humble oppportunity to hear from those Christ has touched through us, that we will never fail to remember that people matter. Every person. Every moment. Every time.
May you and I love Jesus because nothing else matters, and love Jesus because everything else matters.
And may we humbly enjoy the rare moments in life when God tells us through other people that we matter.