Today’s encouraging word is contribution.
Merriam-Webster includes these definitions of the word contribute: “to give or supply in common with others; to play a significant part in bringing about an end or result…”¹
In these last months, I have enjoyed spending time with our grandchildren while our daughter, a psychologist, uses video calling to visit with her patients from a back room. I am delighted to help her keep working while I savor these precious “Grammy” moments. But recently I realized that I am also enabling her to continue helping her clients during these very anxious times. This gave me a greater sense of purpose, a sense of contributing not only to my daughter’s vocation, but to the well-being of those she counsels.
I have often questioned whether I am fulfilling all of the purposes which God has created and inspired me to do. I wonder, “Have I made the best use of this life I have been so graciously given? Have I used my gifts fully enough in service to God and others?” And then when I consider the many needs of the world, I can really feel inadequate and helpless at times! What is to be my personal contribution for the betterment of the world?
The word contribution blesses me with a new and comforting perspective. The phrases in this definition, “in common with others” and “a significant part” mean that my life serves as a smaller but integral part of the common good or greater purpose. To “contribute” indicates that I will give, share, foster or help, but I am not solely responsible for a certain outcome or result. My part is essential, but it is not everything.
When we offer our gifts and service as a grateful contribution toward sharing the love of God and helping one another, we become part of a vast community, including people we may never meet. Our smaller roles work together with God and others for a greater good. God uses everything, connecting us together for something much bigger.
Our contributions may even be the simple tasks, the humble acts of service. This can mean that sometimes we are the ones who are called to do nothing. Sometimes we are to allow someone else to have the leadership, or to listen or equip another to run with their goals, or to enable others to be who God created them to be. None of these roles are of less importance in this web of community for the needs of the world.
Exodus 17:12 (NIV)
When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset.
Our lives are a contribution to the ongoing good purposes of God. God gives to us so that we can contribute to the good of others. We are to do what we can, leave what we cannot, and enable others to do their part. We live and serve as one global web of connection- in generosity, in unity, in humility, and most of all, in love.
1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
In her podcast, The Next Right Thing, Emily P. Freeman offers this prayer in her segment, “Offer Your Work With Hope”1
You are a finisher and You always carry out your work until it is complete, especially the work you begin in us, the invisible kind.
Rather than trying to do big things for the world, may we be willing to do our own thing well and present it as an offering.
Like the young boy on the breezy hillside next to the sea, may we remember our job is to simply offer our small lunch to you. Your job is to feed 5000 people.
Show us what it means to keep company with You in the work we do everyday.
Ephesians 3:20 (NIV)
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.