“We need tall kids up here on the table!”
“OK, I’ll get more blocks from the other areas.”
“Guys, be careful, it’s swaying!”
The family of kids spearheading all this work building a tower were inspiring. Eldest brother was the brains of the operation, figuring out how to keep the tower growing. Sister (next oldest) rallied support and organized workers.
I noticed kids from at least four different families willingly volunteering. Some gathered blocks from other areas and games. Some hopped up on the table to add blocks.
The excitement radiated off of them.
Play is work to children. This was a Great Work.
It didn’t dawn on me until later that they built the tower on a warm, sunny September 11, two decades after the one that saw the fall of two towers.
This tower fell, too.
No matter. The kids were excited by the idea of the tallest tower:
Eldest brother, perhaps someday an engineer, realized that the loft of the swing set was more level. They began the rebuild. Sister, surely a manager someday, organized the kids into THROWING all the blocks to the loft. She also made sure nobody got hurt.
We heard the kids yelling goodbye to my kids as their mom pulled out of the parking lot. That’s when I noticed the bumper sticker for their church.
It turns out the pastor of that church is a subscriber to this blog.
His church has grown not just in numbers and locations but in the maturity of its members. It has a good reputation in the area, with many of its members working to serve the community and share their faith.
They are involved in a Great Work, too. An eternal one.
Still building a cathedral
We have been talking about purpose quite a bit on this blog. Whether it’s defending or rebuilding America after 9/11, building St. Paul’s Cathedral (podcast link), or tending Colonel Sander’s lilac bush (article), we are all connected to something that has real significance and is worth our efforts.
What makes your effort Great? Big or small, there is a purpose to what you do. It’s not just about numbers.
Who is willing to do the Great Work? If you have communicated how it is Great, workers will come. Somebody has to enlist. Somebody has to do the humbler tasks. Somebody has to ensure folks are organized and safe.
Can you see how your work—whatever it is—can be Great beyond the accomplishments? I know the pastor I mentioned wouldn’t give 2 cents to see his numbers grow if his people weren’t glorifying God. That’s the real work for them. It’s the same for the kids: The first tower fell—let’s keep going, I bet we can do this.
Every good endeavor
Pastor Timothy Keller has noted that the liner notes to John Coltrane’s masterpiece, A Love Supreme, feature this prayer: “May He help and strengthen all men in every good endeavor.”
“Nunc dimittis.” This is supposedly what Coltrane uttered coming off stage after having performed the album live in its entirety. It’s the Latin start to the prayer of Simeon in Luke 2.
God had promised him that he would see the Messiah with his own eyes. Once he saw baby Jesus, he praised God, starting with, “Now let me depart.” Nunc dimittis. My work is finished—I can die now.
Perhaps you are “building a cathedral.” Recording a masterpiece. Perhaps you are “just” selling cars, or turning a wrench, or working on staying alive and growing old. Or maybe you’re working on the tallest block tower ever built.
Everything you do has eternal significance. May it be a Great Work.