Everyone has that moment where they answer the inevitable question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” To be completely honest, I never really had dreams of making an impact of any kind. I recall other kids answering that question with the cliche responses like “fireman, astronaut, president of the United States.” What I said was this: “I want to work at General Motors like my dad. He makes a good living.” My dad retired from the Lordstown plant after 35 years working as a janitor on the night shift.
By the way, there is nothing wrong with wanting to do that. My dad is one of the most incredible men I know. But looking back on those early days of imaging my future, I only thought of myself and my own world. It wasn’t until I became a Christian later on as a teenager that my desire to make a difference even surfaced. I’ve been pastor almost as long as I’ve been a follower of Jesus Christ, and from that day until now I’ve continually wrestled with thinking of myself versus thinking of others. Sometimes I ask myself, “Do I think about myself too much?”
I’ve been constantly challenged by the Lord to think of others first. I’ve figured out that the best way for me to put others first is to try to see others the way God sees them. I ask God to give me His eyes almost daily.
This has helped me more than almost anything. It helps me with my compassion, my ability to empathize, and my connection with people in general. Most of the things I do to reach out and assist others most likely wouldn’t happen if I didn’t pray this way constantly.
Through the years I’ve realized one of the greatest things we can do in life is to “leave a mark” on this world that will last into eternity. God calls me to shine my light wherever I go. You know what light I’m talking about, don’t you? Jesus tells us in Matthew 5 that we are the light of the world. It’s the light of God in us. It’s only through God’s strength that I have the power to not think of myself so much and to focus on what really matters. I try to see how much God loves each person with a reckless love. I remind myself that God wants every person to know that He sent His only Son Jesus Christ to the world, to die on a cross, pay for our sins fully and finally, so that we may all be forgiven and have a home in heaven. It’s my job to somehow communicate that to everyone around me in my life. Sometimes this takes place in one conversation very quickly. But most of the time it happens through a loving relationship that I am intentional about.
Either way I just know I need to be reminded that Jesus calls me to “leave a mark” of eternity wherever I am. Whether it’s at home, at the school where my kids attend, at my job, in my neighborhood, or even during brief “random” interactions I have with people from time to time. And it all starts with me praying that God would help me see others through His eyes. And I try to do that every single day.
Would you join me? If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, then you and I are called to be on mission together.
-Chris Zarbaugh | Kensington Clinton Township, Lead Pastor