Friday, January 15, 2010

Making a Difference

Ever wonder what you might say to today's Youth if given an opportunity? I was caught a bit off guard when I was asked to speak to a remarkable young woman on the day of her Bat Mitzvah about Making a Difference. I didn't know what to say, but when I finished, I think I really did manage to boil down my beliefs into a succinct message, so I share it with you here.



Good job! Congratulations on your Bat Mitzvah and regarding your Bat Mitzvah project…Well Done!

I’ve been asked to say some words about “Make a Difference.” Let me start by saying that you are off to a great start.
You are already an outstanding person and just by being you, you have and will have a positive impact on people around you…like your mom and me.

But I wouldn’t be doing my job as one of your elders if I didn’t encourage you and challenge you to continue the harder job to make a real difference to people you don’t know, to you community, the world and even to yourself.

So, I have 3 pieces of advice to offer you today.

First, be intentional about making a difference. Helping and giving and serving, fighting for what’s right and healing our broken world…these are all things we have to be intentional about or they easily fall by the wayside.

Second, Think Big. Don’t think for a minute that you can’t have tremendous impact. It can be from merely showing a kindness to one person who needs it just at that moment. Or you might join with others to further a cause that has been years in the making that will change the course of history. At the same time, don’t be overwhelmed to inaction. Most people are.

It’s probably not common for people to quote catholic nuns at Bat Mitzvah luncheons, but…Mother Teresa said "If you can't feed 100 people, then feed just one" and I think message transcends religions. Don’t let the magnitude of the task or your own self-doubt stop you from taking action.

Lastly, and I think most importantly, Get Personal. Be generous with your time and talents, not just your money. (This will make more sense later when you’re making money) It will help you find your gifts and build on them and find what it is that only you can do. At any given moment…because of who you are or where you happen to be (figuratively or maybe even literally where you’re standing) there’s something for which you are the best person for the job. And my wish for you is that you are going to be able to seize those moments and act on them. Believe me, you’re not going to catch all of them 100% of the time, but when it happens, that’s when you make the biggest difference- for others and for yourself. That makes for days that really count.

I’ve talked in nice vague ways about “taking action” and never once gave you a good solid suggestion for what kind of differences exactly that you should be making. That’s because…I don’t know. And neither does anyone else. This is for you, and only you, to figure out. You’re an adult now in your congregation and this is one of your adult decisions.

But I can leave you with some words that are helpful to me to point me to my path. Buckminster Fuller, American philosopher and futurist, said…

“The Things to do are: the things that need doing, that you see need to be done, and that no one else seems to see need to be done.”

That’s a little complicated so I’ll say it again and maybe text it to you later.

So, go…keep making a difference as you already have. Mazel Tov!

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