Nelson Madela is known for bringing South Africans together after the country was torn apart by apartheid. He also won the Nobel Peace Prize, spent 27 years in prison for fighting against the oppression of minorities in South Africa, and became the nation's first black president in 1994 - just four years after gaining his own freedom.
Mandela celebrated his 94th birthday this week, and residents of South Africa commemorated the event by doing good deeds throughout the country. In fact, citizens were asked to do at least 67 minutes worth of public service on Wednesday to honor the 67 years Mandela devoted to serving others.
Which got me to thinking...
If people were going to do something to celebrate my birthday that was representative of what I had done with my time here on Earth, what would they do?
- Would they spend 34 minutes complaining or gossiping?
- Would they spend 34 minutes on Facebook or Twitter?
- Would they spend 34 extra minutes at work or in bed?
- Would they spend 34 minutes watching television or on the computer?
- Would they spend 34 minutes working in the yard or organizing the garage?
I don't know about you, but my hope is that (eventually) I will be known for making people smile, even when life isn't funny. For meeting their needs, even when it costs me something. For loving them, even when it isn't easy. For extending grace, even when it isn't necessary. For offering hope, even when it isn't obvious. And for giving the credit for it all to someone other than myself.
Nelson Mandela did it. And, as I recall, Jesus did too.
Those are big shoes (or sandals) to fill. But they are worth shooting for. I'd rather be known for trying to make a difference and coming up short than for having seen every episode of American Idol.