“Impacting others” is the kind of phrase heard often from conference speakers and leadership training books. But the people who have impacted my life the most have gotten close and personal. They have served me in my neediest moments.
When I was a newlywed, Michael and I invited Aunt Ann and Uncle Leon over for dinner to our tiny Dallas apartment. Afterwards, the kitchen was a disaster, but I was reluctant to accept help from a guest. Aunt Ann rolled up her sleeves and said with brisk confidence, “We’ll have these dishes cleaned up in a New York minute.” She wasn’t asking; she was doing. The two of us cleared counters, stacked dishes in the dishwasher, and washed pots and pans by hand. I’ve never seen a kitchen transformed so fast.
When my children were small, their physical needs felt overwhelming. After nursing my son in the middle of the night, he still fussed and cried. My mother-in-law Warrene appeared and said, “I’ll take him. You go back to bed.” A year later, while we dined at an elegant New Orleans buffet on Christmas day, she volunteered to change what might have been the world’s worst-ever poop diaper. (I think she was gone almost half an hour!)
Warrene’s impact has also been in her attitude toward people in daily life. Years ago during a busy time she paid a woman regularly to clean her house. Warrene and Hope became friends and Warrene shared her faith in Christ with Hope. Hope and her husband became believers and began attending church with Warrene and Bernard, my father-in-law. Hope’s faith became her lifeline when only a year or two later, she awoke one morning to find her husband dead. Over the years, Warrene and Hope have remained friends. I think of Hope sometimes when I talk to the grocery checker or mail carrier or my building contractor. Even the people who God places in my life to serve me may be people God wants me to serve.
Sunday school teachers have patiently taught my children. Friends have brought me meals when I was sick. Ben and Tara, a former associate pastor and his wife, sat in my living room with me when I learned my young niece and nephew died in a car accident. I don’t recall their saying much. But they were there.
When I think about the possibility that I can impact others by loving and serving them, I think of everyday things: Will I greet someone I know with enthusiasm at the store when I know I’m having a bad hair or fashion day? How can I make someone else’s ministry event a success? Wedding or party a smashing hit? Essay or paper read more smoothly or clearly?
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Luke 19:10, NIV).
Now that’s impacting others.
Sacred Story is honored to have Nancy Holliday as a guest contributor. Nancy lives with her family in Idaho, where she enjoys walking, biking, cross-country skiing, and reading.