This past year has been full of new beginnings and reasons for being brave. I’m just starting my third month as the Director of Head Start/Early Head Start in the Eastern part of Oregon. Any new job includes an unavoidable “learning curve” and time of adjustment, but I have much to be grateful for! Not once have I hyperventilated, had a melt-down, or snuck off to eat a roll of cookie dough. I’ve been so glad to know Immanuel, “God with me.” It was a shift to move from work in faith-based organizations and churches to a secular setting. On the first day of my new journey, it was still night-dark when I left our home in Washington State, and the fog was thick over the icy highway winding through sage covered hills. I listened to the Book of Matthew as I drove, and this is the verse I heard: “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)
In these short two months of serving the children, families, and staff across our region, I’ve observed many principles in Head Start that are also good for the Church. My boss is a visionary leader, and her perspective overflows to the far reaches (literally) of the places we serve. Since all truth is God’s truth, I see Him at work all around me, whether or not there’s a steeple, stained glass window, or sign with service times. These particular principles aren’t framed on a wall in our office, but they’re evident in every layer of what we do. Head Start has a lot for the Church.
- We all work together motivated by a shared mission.
- We work to know the needs of people in our community.
- We use resources to help in specific, practical, consistent ways.
- We make a difference by nurturing authentic relationships supporting our mission.
- We change one life at a time. That changes families. That changes communities. That changes the future.
The Church could learn a lot from Head Start. Sure, it’s not perfect, but there’s so much good, and God uses good works to make such a difference. I’ve loved discovering unity, others-centeredness, helpfulness, authenticity, and perseverance. Good works on display.
Any time the things God loves are displayed, glimpses of His heavenly nature penetrate an otherwise dark landscape. When we spend all of our time with followers of God, we might be tempted to think no “good” is done outside the Church. Without even intending to, when mankind acts in unity, in others-centeredness, in helpfulness, in authenticity, and in perseverance, God’s goodness is on display, shining through our humanity. His character shouts, “In a world of wrongs, I can make it right. In a time of uncertainty, I can be trusted. In days of confusion, I provide peace. Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest!”
Sometimes light shines most brightly when there’s no steeple, no stained glass, and no sign with service times. “Let YOUR light shine,” (emphasis mine) Jesus said. The greater the darkness, the greater the need for light.
Spring is nearly here. Now the sunrise accompanies my drives to work, the fog is gone, and the light reveals the beauty once hidden by the night. Has God given you a place to let you light shine? Do you see His character on display in unlikely places?