If you watch one episode of evening news, you know our world is broken. And its getting worse. The fixes for the ills are not easy assignments. They are not short term. They are not going to have compensation packages. They will take decades or lifetimes. God is looking for some strong shoulder leaders who will take tough assignments. People who are willing to be attacked. People who will sign up for anything.
When you go to a conference you can be overloaded with new ideas and concepts. You’re entertained by the speakers and presentations. But what is the lasting impact? What sticks with you six months later, after the swell of the conference subsides?
At the 2011 Willow Creek Leadership Summit, I heard a number of great speakers. I thoroughly enjoyed the talks by Steven Furtick, Seth Godin, Len Schlesinger, Cory Booker and more. The speaker that had the lasting impact on me, though, was Mama Maggie Gobran.
We always fill out conference evaluations right after a conference ends. I think back on my evaluation and I’d redo it. Sure, I’d still give high marks to Steven, Seth and Len, but I’d score Mama Maggie higher. Why? Her talk was a factor in changing the trajectory of my life.
If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you know a bit of the story* behind the broken piece of pottery Leadership Summit attendees received last year. It, along with the session when Mama Maggie shared, was a catalyst for me to be involved in a more direct way within the city.
I got involved with The Partnership For Our Kids, and volunteered at Franklin Elementary for the school year. This past May, my involvement came to an end.
There was one last event to attend as a volunteer. It took place in the middle of Big Omaha, a conference I love attending, but there was never any doubt I was going to be at Franklin that last time.
The time was a celebration for those students that achieved their goals. I walked into the school, and a number of students smiled and greeted me. I took my seat on the stage, in the auditorium, and students from one of the classroom handed me thank you card they created. I was nearly moved to tears.
Nine months earlier, I battled my own doubts about what impact a white, thirty-something from the suburbs could have with kids, in the city, that deal with family and poverty challenges on a daily basis. On this day, I end up in front of the school leading cheers to the students. A lot had changed. I’m glad I didn’t listen to the doubts.
Into this last event I carried my broken piece of pottery. A symbolic move, the symbol of the catalyst that pushed me forward into greater involvement.
The broken piece of pottery sits on my desk, next to computer. It’s there to remind me. Remind me that the world is broken and it is not going to get fixed unless I am available for tough assignments. The thank you card is up on my wall, next to my office door, to remind me as well. It reminds me that I can be used to make a difference in the lives of others.
I don’t know the measure of impact I had on the lives of the students I worked with throughout the 2011-12 school year. The impact on me by the students, teachers, administrators and fellow volunteers? Immeasurable.
Looking forward to the next school year at Franklin Elementary.