I go to church. There, I said it. I attend Shepherd of the Hills Presbyterianon William Cannon. I go to church for a lot of reasons, but the two biggest drivers are my children and the Reverend Larry Coulter.
Larry does exactly what I’ve always believed a church leader is supposed to do: He tells us what to do. There’s no more mystery! It’s obvious! Just do whatever Larry says on Sunday, and you’re golden!
What I mean is that he starts with the Bible, explains the passage by giving you the back story, offering a little about the main characters, the historical context, all the ways that passage has been interpreted. It’s interesting, actually. Then he turns on the light by telling you a relevant story from his own life. He’s had quite a life. Finally he makes a suggestion, and it’s usually something along the lines of, “… and so this is what God wants us to do.”
And somewhere in there, I have a little revelation. “Oh,” I think, “that’s what that means.
So today, when I read Andrea Ball’s column about the Campaign for Philanthropy in Austin, a.k.a. I Live Here, I Give Here, I thought about Larry’s sermon this morning about patience. (Mostly, I bring up Larry so I can source him, but he’s so much more articulate about this, that I wish I could quote him word for word.)
See, what Larry talked about today was patience and “active waiting.” It’s about identifying what you can control and what you can’t, and preparing in the meantime for the event you’re waiting for. He likened it to farmers, waiting for rain. Farmers can’t control the weather, of course, but they can buy the seed, sharpen the plow, prepare the soil, and perform other tasks within their control. In fact, if they don’t do those things, they essentially forfeit the event they’ve been waiting for.
So we wait, but we don’t just sit there and complain about how people in Austin should care more about their community. The I Live Here, I Give Here campaign launched in September 2007, and the main reason I know this is because I had coffee with Patsy Woods Martin two days after the kick-off at City Hall. I wanted to ask her for feedback on the idea of a philanthropy and charity magazine in Austin. You can read my post from that meeting here.
ILH,IGH and GivingCity are both almost two years old now. And we’re still waiting. Are we making a difference in Austin? Are more people giving now as a result of our efforts? Has this been a good investment of our time, money, sweat, and tears?
I have no idea, but I thank God for Larry. Maybe we’re not having a significant impact now, but I bet we will in the long run. These are, after all, seeds we’re planting. We nurture them, we protect them, we pray for them, and we wait.