We All Matter
We live in a society -- in a world really -- where many people don't believe their life matters. They see themselves as insignificant, having no real role to play. They look at what they are doing in their day to day life and see little or no evidence of any impact -- good or bad -- they may be making on the world around them. Some have even gone so far to believe that they are of very little worth, and it wouldn't matter if they disappeared off the face of the earth.
To make matters worse, such beliefs are often reinforced by other people. Some will look down on others because of the job they hold, or how much money they make. Some because of their political views, or whether or not they keep up with the latest social trends. Some because of their race, religion, social standing, or because of their assigned place in some group's hierarchy. Even complete strangers, who seemingly believe they have some kind of special insight into another person's worth will degrade, demean, and discourage others without a moment's notice. Displease them the least little bit, and they have no hesitation in telling someone just what they think of them.
Regardless of the who or what, judging ourselves and others by such standards is a mistake. To do so is shortsighted at best, and outright deceptive at worst. People are far more valuable than the sum of their parts, or the positions they hold, no matter who they are. But, unfortunately, too many of us focus on the wrong things.
The fact is, we put far too much importance on the meaningless things than we do on that which is meaningful. We hold some things in high regard -- often beyond merit or reason -- while simultaneously disregarding that which is truly important in life, and truly impactful. Let me give you an example of what I mean.
I've often heard people speak disparagingly about janitors, and even garbage men -- maybe you have as well. It's painfully obvious that some people in society consider janitors to be some of the least important people in society. They are looked down upon because they don't do anything heroic or glamorous. After all, they aren't putting out fires, or defending the homeland, or caring for the sick; they just clean up our mess, and deal with the garbage we leave behind. So, what's so important about them... right?
Well, imagine if all the janitors and all the garbage men suddenly disappeared from the face of the earth. What do you think life would be like without them?
If I had to venture guess, I'd say, first, garbage cans would begin to overflow. Garbage would begin to accumulate on the floors of our workplaces, our hospitals, and our favorite coffee shop down the street. Public restrooms would go uncleaned, and dispensers would go unfilled -- nothing more need be said after this one, but I'll go on. Spills and messes of all types would no longer be cleaned up. Instead, they would be left right where they were to commemorate the event that caused them.
Eventually, some frustrated people may begrudgingly shuffle some of the refuse outside just to get it out of the way, but only for it to accumulate in a different place. The piles would grow larger and more unmanageable by the day. Soon garbage would be blown by the wind through streets, yards, parks, and playgrounds.
But wait, it gets better. Not long after, rodents would appear, along with flies, cockroaches, and other pests to share in the bounty. Disease would begin to rise, and more and more people would become sick due to the garbage that is now lining every street. The smell of rotting garbage on a hot summers day would become nearly unbearable in places. Mmmm, enjoy that aroma with your next Whopper.
By now perhaps you're saying to yourself "That's ridiculous! The janitors and garbage men would never disappear all at once!" Fair enough, but you're missing the point. Many view janitors as unimportant since their job isn't heroic or glamorous, but they are anything but unimportant. Sure, they may not be in the limelight, however, janitors affect all of us in a positive way, every single day. They clean up our mess, make sure everything is in order, deal with the things we would rather not deal with, and they often do so without complaint and without so much as a thank you. Without them we would all be living in our own squalor -- and believe me, it happens. All one has to do is take a look at the living condition in some parts of in the world.
And it's not just janitors who are subject to unrecognized importance. Many are in a place or position where they are looked down upon by others, or have somehow come to believe that they don't make a difference in the world, but this is untrue. They most certainly do make a difference. If I may quote a line from "It's a Wonderful Life," "You just don't know all that you've done."
Whether you're a janitor, a fireman, a fast-food cook, a policeman, a cashier, a doctor, a truck driver, a lawyer... whatever! It doesn't matter what you do, you have an affect on the world around you every day. As I said, janitors keep us from living in our own squalor. Fast-food cooks provide us with the option to eat when we don't have time to cook. Cashiers and truck drivers are a vital links making it possible for us to purchase the things we need -- and on, and on, and on. All of these and more have a positive effect on us and our lives. The people doing these jobs are valuable and indispensable. They make all of our lives better in some way by making something possible that wouldn't have otherwise been so. And should any one of these groups disappear tomorrow, they would be sorely missed.
I know what some people will be thinking: "Well, okay, but, what can I do? I'm just one person. I can't do anything grand or important." Well, you see, the thing about that is, we're all "just one person." Even the most well known among us are just one person. But it doesn't matter that we are just one person, what matters is how we play our role.
No one janitor keeps the world clean. No one fast-food cook prepares all the meals at all the restaurants. No one truck driver delivers all the products we need to our local store. No celebrity, no Fortune 500 CEO, not even the President of the United States does it all on their own. They have hundreds, even thousands of people, all doing their part, working towards the same end. Without these people -- including you and I -- they couldn't do what they do. Such is the way the world is set up, from the very top to the very bottom. We are all just one person. Each of us has our role, our part to play, and without us, we leave a hole.
So, yes, you are important, and in more ways than you know. Just because you aren't "on top," or holding the most high profile position, it doesn't make you any less significant. And if those who are on top lost their support, they would tumble in a heartbeat.
But there is more to this I want you to see. Up until now, I've focused mainly on occupations to illustrate a point, however, my point isn't to focus solely on our employment. In reality, our influence reaches far beyond what we do for a living.
Everything we do, good or bad, affects the world around us and those in it. Whether our role is as a parent, a spouse, a child, a brother or sister in the Christ, a neighbor, or a stranger, we touch lives for the better, or the worse, each and every day. By our demeanor, by our words, and by our actions, each and every one of us affect a countless number of lives without even knowing it. The things many of us consider to be the mundane circumstances of life can actually be very powerful things.
It was just one woman who shared God with me, who made me realize it was God I was looking for, and turned the direction of my life for the better. It was just one woman -- a different woman -- who opened up greater depths of understanding of God and who He is, and again turned my life for the better. And it was individuals, coming one by one, offering their support, their prayers, and their encouragement, who helped me keep going during some of the most difficult times in my life. None of these people were famous, neither then nor now, and none of them were doing anything anymore influential than any one of us. However, what they did was profoundly important to me. They changed the course of my life. And more than likely, in the eyes of those who took the time to be good to me, these acts probably didn't seem all that significant. As I said earlier, we put too much importance on things that aren't important, and too little importance on things that truly are.
So the real question isn't "Are you important?" because the answer is a resounding, yes, you are as important as anyone else. Neither is the real question "Do you have a role to play in the world?" because you most certainly do have a role to play. These are without a doubt the right answers for each and every one of us. No, the real question is, what kind of effect will we choose to have?
Will we choose to have a positive effect, or a negative one? Will we spread blessings and joy, or will we spread frustration and sadness? Will we work together towards a common goal, or will we work to bring confusion and frustration to those around us? Will we serve to brighten a person's day and lighten their load, or will we heap upon them even more burdens? And Christians, will we join together in Christ, with Christ, or be at each others throats over petty differences? It's something we all have to decide, whether we consciously choose or not.
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