As the leaves shed their summer clothes in exchange for fall apparel, I’m reminded of childhood autumn days snuggling under my warm comforter as crisp air drifted through my bedroom, mingled with the sound of the high school marching band practicing for the upcoming football game. Soon I would break free from my quilted cocoon, join the leaves in donning my seasonal clothing and walk with my family the short few blocks to the game.
In those days, the band was a permanent fixture at athletic events, fall and winter. They knew their purpose: motivate the home team by means of music. Rouse the fans to cheer their team to victory. Set the environment for another win. And have fun doing it.
Things changed by the time I stepped onto the high school scene. The bleachers were often empty where the band used to sit. And halftime was unusually quiet.
Instead of faithfully stirring the fans and supporting the team, the band was busy participating in various competitions throughout the region in hopes of garnering their own victory. Rather than helping the team gain another state trophy, the band was set on filling its own trophy case. And fans were torn between rallying behind their team at the game or the band at its own competition.
Whispers floated through the hallway—silent laments that our school no longer had a band to encourage our teams. Questions of whether our slow descent from athletic glory resulted in part from the lack. Wonders of what suitable thing could fill the gap our band had left in its absence.
When did existing to serve others become insufficient? When did not having awards to validate their efforts become a false sign of insignificance? When did being in the shadows of the limelight become less than enough?
It seems to be the mantra of our generation—that our efforts are futile if unrewarded. That the privilege of helping another is minimized if unaccompanied by accolades of our own greatness. That we exist solely for the purpose of glorifying ourselves and cease to exist if not applauded by the masses.
When our sole purpose revolves around ourselves, we breed contempt for our fellow human beings. They become mere hindrances to our own success. And we lose sight of the reason for our existence.
I found life when I found my purpose—to serve the living God, who created the heavens and the earth, and who also created me for a reason. It might sound selfish on God’s part that he created me to serve him, but it’s not selfish at all when you understand that we serve him when we help others. Whenever I do something to bless someone else, I am blessing my Maker.
It’s not about me. It’s not about my own glory, or about how many awards I can garner for my own display. It’s about treating others as the treasured creation God has made them to be, laying down my life to glorify God by honoring the work of his hands—the people he so loves.