As we enter the Christmas season, I have a lot for which to be thankful. I also have a lot of food for thought.
I’m learning not to mistake busyness for accomplishment or impact. If, at the end of the day the work I do does not effect positive change to the people I care about, including family, friends, community, church and clients, it’s all for naught.
Serving in a soup kitchen on Thanksgiving and Christmas to get a sense for how people less fortunate than I am does not cut it, if I do nothing to help the people being served improve their lot in life beyond filling their stomachs 4 hours out of the year.
Giving out book bags at the beginning of the school year is wonderful, but, if I am not engaged in tutoring, mentoring or changing school policies to increase funding, resources and school performance, what have I accomplished?
If I’m helping to coordinate children and youth programs at church, but not showing them how to develop their personal relationship with Jesus, or engage the community beyond my church’s side street, have I made a difference?
Holding resource fairs, job fairs, community festivals are wonderful things. If at the end of the day my community leads the city in unemployment, incidences of disease and lack of cultural resources, my efforts are in vain.
If I host organizational development trainings, facilitate strategic plans and help raise funds, and my clients’ capacity to sustain themselves after I’m done with them has not improved as a direct result of my help, I have failed.
If I’m trying to save the world, and can’t save myself, my family or friends, my priorities are misplaced. This is even more evident when the very people for whom I fought the hardest look the other way when I need them most.
If I’m trying to convince the world how good I am because I’m involved in this, that, or the other activity, and I walk right past the needs of people under my nose, I am nothing.
I don’t profess to be perfect, or have arrived. I still have a lot of reflection to do and sorting out the good, the bad and the ugly lessons learned. I will say that I am wiser, and am less consumed with busyness and learning to be more focused so I can make a real impact.
I thank God for the opportunities I’ve had in this life, and intend to make this next chapter one of the most meaningful ever. I thank you for being a part of my life. May God continue to bless you and yours this season, and beyond.
Valerie F. Leonard
Expert, Community and Organizational Development