Decades ago, I took a few days off to visit my father. At the time he was implementing a kindergarten through 12th grade career education program for a city district. We committed a full day to tour the schools, meeting teachers, principals, and even a few students. It was a unique opportunity to respond to my father’s work. I was impressed!
As we reflected towards the end of the day, I shared my observations, threading in a deep mix of congratulations for the difference he was making to the students in this city, as well as my heartfelt pride in the wisdom and patience in his work. One part of our conversation recently replayed.
During our tour, a junior high principal asked for advice regarding a young boy best described as a delinquent. He was, candidly, on the verge of giving up. Dad’s response caught me by surprise.
“I find I can work with anyone engaged in life. Passionately positive or incredibly negative, if one is actively engaged in living, there is an opportunity. The quest is to find the opening which creates a positive step in how the individual views her/himself.”
I am wrestling with a variation of the same themes the Medford Oregon principal was on that spring morning. Yes, the situation and context are different. However, the questions of community contributions, engagement, and self-harm were on the table then as they are now.
Life tagged the conversation then, now I hear Life periodically replaying it as I consider the options in a new day. For others as well as myself, the starting point is engagement. Once I find and embrace this opening, everything is possible. With a positive step, the untapped potential opens, breathing and touching those involved. As I apply it to my life, I hear Peter’s words as advice I can use to build on; “Make the Master proud of you by being good citizens. Respect the authorities, whatever their level.” (1 Peter 2.13)
My community is never perfect. In good and in the bad, I can make a positive difference.