How to Shine Where You Are
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matt. 5:14-16
I would often get discouraged when I would see others shining bright for Jesus. They were rebuilding homes devastated by mudslides in Central America, organizing concerts and hosting retreats that I had always longed dreamed of working on myself....They were being braver than I could ever be, using resources I don't have.
I wanted to make a difference, too. It would be awesome to hop on a plane to a faraway place to minister to others. Or come up with an idea for a program that would change lives here at home. I longed to shine big.
Things changed for me though when I realized Jesus did not call all of us to do big things all the time, everywhere. It’s great if you can shine big, however, don’t be discouraged if you can’t. We can shine for Jesus right in our own families, our own dorms, our own places of employment.
You are called to shine right where you are.
Any light shining into the darkness will make a difference. The good news is there are countless ways to shine that cost little to nothing or do not take much time. So, let’s put down our excuses and shine our lights into the world.
Here are some of my favorite things anyone can do to shine, no matter what your life looks like:
Help someone else shine big
My co-worker Amber went to Africa for two weeks to work in an orphanage. Instead of feeling sorry for myself that I was not able to go, I helped Amber raise money for her trip. I collected merchandise from local businesses that were raffled off with all the proceeds going towards her costs. I may not have been physically been able to go to Africa, but through supporting and praying for Amber while she was there, I felt like I, too, was a small part of the mission team.
Every time you log on to Facebook, you're bound to find a friend raising money for a mission trip. Churches often also support missionaries and there are also many blogs out there of people who are doing mission work abroad, who will welcome your prayer and financial support.
But, there are also other ways to help someone shine big - even if it's little things like offering to baby-sit your pastor's kids, volunteering at your friend's fundraising event or just praying for your church's leadership.
Over the summer, my uncle began the process of giving up smoking. Having smoked for most of his life, this was a big deal. I wanted to encourage him so I sent him a card. Inside I wrote how proud I was of the progress he had made.
I have a stash of Christian cards on hand (mostly purchased on clearance from Dayspring or ChristianBook.com) that I can jot a quick note in and put in the mail to hopefully brighten someone’s day.
Even if it's just a simple thinking of you card, or a short thank you to a former mentor or old friend, that one card can mean the world on a day when life threatens to cave in around you. I know I enjoy the few times a year I get real mail (that is not bills)!
Pray for others
It’s easy to remember to pray for ourselves or our immediate family members, but praying for others outside of our immediate social circle is a great way to shine.
When I was in high school, I was exiting church one day at the same time as Esther, a sweet lady with white hair. She said something to me that day that I will never forget: She said she was praying for me. That meant a lot.
Prayer is a vehicle through which God acts. Set aside some time to pray for other people in your life: your pastor, a next door neighbor, a classmate, or even our government leaders. It doesn't have to be someone you know extremely well either, because every seeks the same blessings in this life: good health for themselves and their families, financial stability, a job, children who fear the Lord, and above all, to know God deeply and intimately.
So, pick a name and pray for that person like you would for yourself. You'll be amazed at the consequences!