Recently I completed Steven Garber’s book “Visions of Vocation”. Mr. Garber’s work was deeply impactful to me and I want to share some thoughts.
As I was finishing the book I sat in our families sun room in my favorite chair staring off into the distance. My wife Kate walked in and said, “Are you ok?” I slowly replied, “I think this book has somehow given me permission to bring ‘all of me’ into ‘all of my work’.” As I sat and pondered what I was coming to terms with was how I (and I think many of us) had compartmentalized my life, more specifically I think I had taken things I had learned or felt compelled to act on and put them on a shelf for later because I wasn’t in the ‘right role’ or it wasn’t the ‘right time’. I have had aspirations for business, politics, ministry, literature, leadership development, and other roles I could picture myself in to lend a hand or make progress on some issue that impacts me or my community. And I fear I may have committed a real error over the years by categorizing and labeling what work or activism belonged in what category and then in the confusion or uncertainty, what action did I end up taking? Usually none. This cost of inaction, in theory has a real cost to the communities in which I live and work if I don’t actually engage in work that is helpful to that community, but I think there is another cost. I think there is a real cost of personal despair and sadness that sets in as these newly formed small fires fade to embers and then nothing at all, over and over.
The spark of an idea (Revelation), the fanning the flame of what I might do (Responsibility), and then…Nothing. No action.
What Steven Garber’s book did for me was to give the logical next step to this cycle which is to look for how to take action in your ‘proximity’ and sphere of influence (Relationships). When I reflected on my life and all of the hopes and dreams and goals and visions I had built up, I realized that I had taken action on very few of them and this inaction had built up quite an inventory of unspoken sadness and discouragement.
Conversely, I also reflected on the times in the last 5 years where I had taken a deep dive into some relationships and tried to make a difference there was quite a different personal outcome…JOY. For example, when the Revelation, Responsibility, and Relationship cycle was followed through in my work on workforce development/poverty/leadership or in helping to start The Meeting House ‘which Damon’ was engaged; was it ‘Business Damon’, ‘Political/Chamber Damon’, ‘Family Damon’, or ‘Ministry Damon’? The answer is it was all of me. All of me engaged with my head and my heart and focused on a relationship in my proximity, and in those relationships I found clarity, joy, and hope.
I know that wherever you sit there are problems and priorities circling around you, my encouragement to you (and myself) is to lean in and learn more about them (Revelation) and prayerfully consider what part you play in the problem or solution (Responsibility) and then lastly I pray that you discover the joy of finding someone (Relationship) to rally around to make a difference in your proximity.
The video of this speech was originally presented for the Wichita Chamber of Commerce on December 12th, 2018.