Wednesday, March 10, 2004

How to Have a Positive Impact

During my recent and short-lived political career (I was running for the Ohio House of Representatives), I was invited to speak at a meeting of the Loveland Women's Club. This organization is inspiring because they do so many great things for the community.

Their efforts set me to thinking about what the essential ingredients are for anyone---be they community organization, school group, government agency, charity, church, coach, teacher, parent, or grandparent---to have a positive impact on the lives of others.

The first ingredient, I think, is love. I'm not talking about an emotion here, but a tough-minded commitment. Love, in contemporary thinking, is too bathed in sentimentality. We confuse loving people with liking them. You don't always like the people you love.

A famed speaker and author was married for more than forty years to a fiery woman, gifted in her own right. One morning, they had a fierce argument. Because he had an appointment and needed to go, the man left before things were resolved. When he returned later, his wife was away. But there was a note in the kitchen. "Dear Charlie," it said, "I hate you. Love, Martha."

Love makes a tough commitment to the good of others. We must have this if we're to have a positive impact on the people in our world. Locally, I have seen this in some friends I've made recently---Tom Wildey of New Richmond and Bruce and Krista Dunham of Pierce Township. Their commitment to helping kids they'll probably never meet has been important in the recent expansion of the Boys and Girls Club of Clermont County.

The second essential ingredient is attitude. An elderly woman sat at a banquet table and stared at a man her own age all evening long. Unnerved, the man finally asked the woman why she was doing this. "You remind me of my third husband," she said. "Oh, really," the man responded, "how many husbands have you had?" "Two." That woman had the right attitude!

The right attitude when it comes to positively impacting others is one that says, "Yes, this task---be it parenting or reaching a lofty goal to benefit our community---is bigger than me. But I'm sure that at the right time, God will bring the right people along to compensate for my deficiencies!" Leadership guru John Maxwell says, "Attitude is altitude!" He's right. We can never rise higher than our attitudes.

The final essential ingredient for having a positive impact on others is faith. When I first came to Clermont County to start Friendship Church almost fourteen years ago, it was clear that many "experts" thought the congregation would go belly-up. It's been a long climb and we're surely not a megachurch. But on Christmas Eve, 2002, we had the first worship celebration in our first building facility. That happened because, through years of worshiping in a school gym, the people of the congregation had faith in God and faith that He would help us pursue His call for us to create a congregation that welcomes people who never liked church. It's inspiring to be the pastor of such selfless, faithful people!

Want to have a positive impact on others? Ask God to help you face each day with love, a positive attitude, and faith in Him...then watch how God uses you to do great things!

[This is the newest installment of a column I write for a chain of suburban Cincinnati newspapers. I wasn't writing it during my recent campaign for the Ohio House of Representatives.]