“My point is that your vocation will in some fundamental way be aligned with how you see the brokenness of the world. It is imperative therefore that you respond according to your own perception of the world’s brokenness. It is equally imperative that you no judge others if they do not see or feel the brokenness of the world as you do. They have a different set of lenses; the see the world differently; they have a different call.”
~ Gordon T. Smith
Most of us will remember Dr. Tom Osborne as one of the most effective college football coaches in the history of the game. Whether or not you remember him fondly, however, is likely relative to how many times your favorite team lost to Nebraska during his tenure. Unlike most of us, however, Amanda had no idea who Tom Osborne was, and probably never will, even though she grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska. What Amanda did know was that she was going to college, and she was going to college because of Ron.
By 1991, Tom and Nancy Osborne had decided to make a difference in the lives of the children of Lincoln. For years, they had noticed that there were many children in their community that were growing up without the benefit of caring and experienced adult mentors to help guide them through the complex process of growing up. Many of these children earned lower than average grades, often the direct result of poor classroom attendance and homework completion, and subsequently experienced lower than average rates of graduation and college acceptance.
To combat this problem, Tom and Nancy Osborne began an in-school mentoring program. The program provided selection and training of potential mentors, and required that each mentor commit to meeting with a student on school premises at some point during the school day, for one hour each week. These mentors were trained to build relationships that would offer everything from relationship advice to tutoring. Because the first of the mentors in this program were the football players at the University of Nebraska, Tom and Nancy named their new venture “Teammates.”
Over time, as more and more students were matched with mentors, the rates of attendance, homework completion, graduation, and college acceptance all began to increase. By the time that Ron volunteered to be a mentor to Amanda, the program was matching 5,000 mentors with students annually across Nebraska and Iowa. Over the course of a four year period, Ron helped Amanda to obtain a bus pass from the city of Lincoln so that she could make the 3 mile journey to school every day, without having to walk it. Ron helped Amanda with her homework, attended her band performances, helped her to study for finals and the ACT’s, and eventually helped her to fill out the necessary financial aid applications to attend college. At the end of her high school experience, as she prepared to graduate with a 3.8 GPA, Amanda sat at an end-of-the-year banquet for mentors and students, right next to Ron. With tears in her eyes, she reflected on how much her life, and her future, had changed, all because one man made a decision that to him…she would matter.
Making a difference in the world isn’t that hard. When you choose to respond to the passion that God has placed on your heart for the brokenness that you see in the world, then the unleashed power of the Holy Spirit at work through your passion, accomplishes great things. This year, pay attention to those moments when God allows you to catch a glimpse of how it feels when His heart breaks for someone, or something. If you do, then you may find that through you, God will open the door to profound transformation.