I’d like to introduce you to a few thoughts from Jay Link, an advisor to stewards for more than 20 years. Below, is a segment of his blog about Mother Teresa and our dedication to serving others.
Mother Teresa: A miserable failure and yet . . .
“By our materialistic, American standards, Mother Teresa was a miserable failure. She never owned her own home. She had no money set aside for retirement. She had not built a successful business or had much of an income. She did not own a car and wore the same style of clothes every day.
“There was no reason why this fragile woman living in the inner city of an obscure, economically struggling country, working with hundreds of seemingly insignificant children should have earned such worldwide respect and prestigious accolades.
“The fact is that … we have drifted quite far from our original moral, ethical and religious moorings. However, we have not drifted so far from them that we do not still deeply respect people who are willing to sacrificially give of themselves to help the helpless. Deep down, each of us knows that in so doing, we will experience the highest level of personal fulfillment and spiritual joy even though this reality is seldom part of our daily consciousness. Sadly, we often find ourselves so busy in our headlong pursuit of living life that we actually end up missing the true essence of life.
It is not enough to simply read the biographies of great men and women who throughout history have happily traded a life of prosperity, luxury and comfort for one of toil, sacrifice, disease, and even death, to help those who cannot help themselves. You may be inspired by their great religious and humanitarian efforts, but you will never experience their tremendous blessing. They would all acknowledge that the fulfillment they found surpassed everything they voluntarily gave up in the trade.”
Sacrificing to do short-term mission work
I like how Jay Link puts into words what I see all around me at Food for the Hungry (FH). Recently, we received a letter from a retired lady who returned from a week-long mission trip to an FH community in the Dominican Republic with her church team. She shared how such a trip was way outside of her comfort zone and not remotely part of her dreams. She went because she sensed God’s Spirit prompting her to. She recognized that she should not have survived her week on the field. She wasn’t in shape for the physical labor, the bed wasn’t as comfortable as the one at home, the lack of cleanliness should have sent her neat-freak self right over the edge – all of the nice conditions that she so needed were absent. Yet, in spite of all that, she relayed how she felt physically ignited and internally fulfilled and joyful.
Now, she personally knew her sponsored child. She had spent time learning, laughing, playing, working and praying together with the children and parents of the town. She hadn’t left any money there. But she claimed, “I left part of my heart there.” She left totally surprised that, in her retirement years, “God gave me such an incredible ministry.” One that she can’t wait to go back to year after year.
How can short-term team members sacrifice comfort, vacation time, expense and still come home way richer? Jay Link explains it this way – “You will always make a profit, when you give yourself away to others. Let me suggest that the personal delight of giving massive sums of money away is decidedly minuscule in comparison to the joy you will realize by giving yourself away to a worthy Kingdom cause.
“The story of the rich young ruler expresses this truth perfectly. Jesus was not really interested in this young man’s wealth. In fact, Jesus told him to give it all away to the poor. What Jesus really wanted was the young man himself. What is the greatest charitable gift you have to give? Yourself! Why not make a gift of yourself to a worthy Kingdom cause? You will be all the richer for it.”