It’s Not About You

The week of April 10-16, 2016 is by Presidential Proclamation, National Volunteer Week in the United States. The proclamation says that this is the week “we celebrate the selfless individuals around our country who channel their civic virtues through volunteerism, and we encourage more people to make service an integral part of their lives.” 

In 2002 Pastor Rick Warren published a book entitled, “A Purpose Driven Life.” It was on best seller lists for years and by 2007 more than 30 million copies had been sold. There were lots of sentences in the book, many passages of Biblical Scripture were quoted and it is a great read to this very day.

Many people, including me, might say that no sentence in the book was as impactful as the very first one:

It’s not about you.

It is a book written by a Christian Pastor but it wasn’t written specifically for Christians. The advice and guidance provided in the book could be life changing for anyone who took it to heart. The book speaks to living your life on purpose for a purpose. I believe we all have at least one common purpose in life and that purpose is to add value to the world by giving something back. 

We give back because life is not all about us.

President John F. Kennedy said “For of those to whom much is given, much is required.” The inspiration for President Kennedy’s famous observation, can be found in Luke 12:48: “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.”

You may not think of it this way but your ability to simply read this post demonstrates that you have been given much, at least more than some others. Despite life’s ups and downs most of us really do have a pretty wonderful life. During national volunteer week no one is asking that you give back all that you have been given, you’re only asked to share a little bit of your wonderful life.

Mahatma Gandhi said that we should “live simply so that others may simply live.” That is the essence of giving and of volunteering. Your smallest act of giving, your smallest act of kindness, and your smallest act of volunteering could potentially make a huge difference for someone else, or, it may make it possible for them to simply live.

Just because you may not see the difference doesn’t mean you didn’t make one and just because you may not personally receive thanks for your efforts doesn’t mean that someone isn’t thankful. 

The only real reason you need for making a difference is that you can. You don’t have to change the entire world to make a difference in it. You can make a difference in the world just by making a difference in the life of one other person.

Warren Buffett is quoted as saying, “Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” What he meant by that is sometimes it takes a long time for a difference to be seen. You should know that today and always, the tasks you undertake for others will make a difference in their lives someday, whether you get to see it or not.

So this week we should all be planting metaphorical trees, we should water them with additional acts of volunteerism throughout the year and never forget this all important fact: it’s not about you.


4 thoughts on “It’s Not About You

  1. Reblogged this on Theological Reflections and commented:
    Very inspiring, uplifting, and encouraging post!
    Thank-you for your insightful thoughts on the importance of being a cheerful giver. It is profound when we realize the power contained in simply giving, particularly when something so seemingly small has the ability to impact countless lives.
    Have a blessed week!

  2. Steve – I read the title of your post and immediately thought of Rick Warren’s book! And how much that statement resonated with me too.

    When I opened your post and read Warren Buffett’s quote about sitting in the shade today because someone else planted a tree a long time ago, I was instantly transported back in time… I was invited to sit in a Board Meeting for a very large foundation. Most of the board members had silver hair and most of the projects they were considering would impact the lives of their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren – but because of the size and scope of the projects and their ages it was very clear that many of these board members may never live to see the impact of their decisions. I was so inspired and am still so thankful for the opportunity to witness their generosity of time, vision, and influence.

    1. Thanks Chery, I hate to imagine a world where people didn’t give. When people work and give, knowing they will never personally get to see the fruits of their efforts, then you know they truly have a servants heart. The world is a better place because of them!

      Rick’s book has made a difference for many people. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where the first sentence so effectively set the tone for the entire book. It kind of makes the think the book wasn’t so much written as it was inspired. ☺️

Leave a Reply