If you read last month's First Word, Everybody Always, you'll remember that I've been reading the book by that title. Guess what... I'm still reading that book. I know, I'm a slow reader. I read like five books at the same time all while making plenty of time to binge-watch Black-ish on Hulu. Don't judge.
I say all that because I picked the book back up, and there are two things I read that I want to share especially as we live intentionally and #FORStarkville as a church. They both come from the chapter Limo Driver - don't build a castle when you can build a kingdom. Bob Goff, author of Everybody Always, and I share a love for Disney. He shares a little-known secret about Disneyland in Southern California of how the windows in the second-story shops are dedicated to people who helped build the kingdom there. He says, "I found a window across from the Jungle Cruise for a guy named Harper Goff. He's not related to me at all, but that's not what I tell the people who sell tickets to get in. The window says, 'Prof. Harper Goff - Banjo Lessons.' But banjo isn't what he'll be remembered for. You see, Harper Goff has a window at Disneyland because he helped build a kingdom there."
This is what made me stop and pause: "Here's the question I keep asking myself: What do I want my window to say? This question is worth thinking about even if you don't know the answer. What part are you going to play in building the kind of kingdom Jesus said would outlast us all?"
I hope my window says "Prof. Bobby D. - storyteller." However, I have to ask myself, am I going to get a window? Is my life building the kind of kingdom Jesus said would outlast me? Or am I building a castle that will end up in ruins after my time is up?
The second thing I learned from this chapter is that at the end of it all, I think it is the relationships we are intentionally making without an agenda that builds a lasting kingdom. "We're supposed to just love the people in front of us. We don't need to spend as much time as we do telling people what we think about what they're doing. Loving people doesn't mean we need to control their conduct...Loving people means caring without an agenda. As soon as we have an agenda, it's not love anymore. It's acting like you care to get someone to do what you want or what you think God wants them to do....It's this simple: I want people to meet you and me and feel like they've just met everyone in heaven."
This idea is at the core of #FORStarkville. Loving the people right in front of us here in Starkville with no agenda, simply being crazy intentional with our time, resources, and life to see how God uses it to build His kingdom. That kingdom will far outlast Prof. Goff and Disneyland.
Be a literal good neighbor: Go introduce yourself to the neighbors you haven’t met yet. Exchange numbers, and invite some of them over for dinner and games at your house just to get to know them.
Adopt-a-teacher: Whether you have a student or not, chances are you know someone who teaches in our community. Teachers have a profound impact on countless lives of both students and parents, but they don’t have nearly enough support in this critical effort. Get to know one, and help be that support through coffee, back-to-school meal delivery, extra school supplies when their stash runs low, or even discreetly supplying coats for their students in need.
Babysit for free: Do you know a single mom? A parent whose spouse has recently deployed? Volunteer to give them some time off by helping with childcare for a few hours. Don’t like kids? Give them some cash so they can pay their favorite babysitter.