Being a difference maker

"I may have 10 years left on this earth, and I want to spend them doing something that will make a difference," a new friend of mine uttered over a cup of coffee at a local diner several years ago. I was interviewing Dick and Rebecca, a couple of 70-year-olds looking for their next adventure — it would be a "ministry adventure." The statement blew up my preconceived notions about them and shocked me in a good way that never left me. I interpreted this powerful statement as, "Time is precious and I do not want to waste any of it that is left."

I imagine you have felt that way, that time is precious and you do not want to squander it. Maybe you have been thinking this way this Thanksgiving weekend. With an extra day or two off, you might have carefully planned the enjoyable activities that you were going to do and avoided the tasks that would waste your vacation time. Time is also precious when you have a boatload of work to do and little time to get it done. This is when we kick into maximizer mind-set at work or in the shop. Time also is precious as we get older and we begin to realize that we will not be here on this earth forever.

Time is precious, so how are you using your time? This type of question can be very sobering, and of course, it is easier to stay clear of it. But let's not shake it off. Are you making a difference? Maybe you and I need to ask the question, "How can I leverage my time in a way that will make a lasting impact?"  

At the end of Moses' life found in Deuteronomy 34, we find a very compelling time investment that Moses made that had lasting impact. Deuteronomy 34:9 says, "Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him. So the Israelites listened to him and did what the Lord had commanded Moses." Moses made a difference through his personal investment in Joshua.

It could be said that Moses was highly successful in his life. He led the Israelites out of Egypt, the land of slavery and bondage. It is one of those stories still talked about today. He brought down the Ten Commandments from God to share with the people and these ten words as they are called in Hebrew have shaped several civilizations. He was close and intimate with God as it says in Deuteronomy 34:10, "Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face."

But despite all his accomplishments, Moses did the humble thing. Moses could have felt like that he had done enough already making a difference. But Moses went to the next level and invested in a young guy named Joshua to get him ready to lead the Israelites. Moses' impact was maximized as he lived on through Joshua's successful leading of the Israelites into the Promised Land. 

You may say, "Well, I am not leading the Israelites and I do not have a Joshua in the pipeline." Good point, but do not underestimate the impact that a mentor can have on a life. Let's look at steps Moses took in his interaction with Joshua and see if anything could fit. Moses took intentional steps to pour into the life of another:

1. Moses chose Joshua. We do not have the exact time in the pages of Scripture when this occurred, but we know that Moses looked to invest in someone who had good character and latent leadership ability. He picked someone to invest in that he saw as having potential. I think Moses probably liked being around Joshua and saw that he could help him.

2. Moses spent time with Joshua and entrusted responsibility to him. He appointed Joshua as his aide. Joshua accompanied Moses on trips, for example, up Mount Sinai. Joshua was sent out as one of the explorers of the land of Canaan. Through this time and activity, Joshua was developed to be a man of wisdom and discernment. 

3. When Joshua was ready, Moses commissioned him as leader. Moses entrusted authority to lead at the right time.

Who is in your life has potential whom you could help develop? This could happen in a sport, academic or spiritual environments. You can make a difference by taking intentional steps to invest in another.  

Seventy-year-olds Dick and Rebecca joined our initiative and invested time for three years into several men and women with lasting impact. Imagine what would happen in our community if scores of people like you and I decided to pour our lives into just one other individual. It would inspire a younger generation and we would all feel the joy of being a part of something bigger than ourselves — and this time around make us a difference maker!

Norm Byers is the lead pastor of Genesis Church. Genesis meets at 9:30 a.m. at North Central Michigan College in Petoskey and 11 a.m. at Boyne City Elementary. Visit www.genesiswired.com online for more information, or comment on Twitter @NormByers.
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