Summary: This sermon focuses on how and why we do what we do for Christ and that it matters even when others do not think it does.
What You Do Matters!
I went to graduate school at night while I was in the Air Force. I was a non-commissioned officer and I was not planning to go to officer training school or retire from the military. Because I was not planning to become an officer, some questioned me as to why I was getting a master’s degree. What would it matter, why not just stop with the bachelor’s degree? When I was three-quarters away from finishing, I almost dropped out because I was tired of going to school at night (this was my third consecutive year) and I could not see what it would benefit me. The voices of those who questioned why I was putting myself through it all stayed in my mind. As I listened to the voices, I began to ask myself if it mattered. When I talked it over with Nikki, she was emphatic that I should finish for it I did not finish then I never would. Today I am glad that I listened to her because that degree has helped me to get to where I am in my current industry. Even though I could not see it while I was frustrated with doing the work, it did matter.
While working on my graduate degree, I took an independent study course where I did not have to attend any classes. This would be similar to what we have today as an on-line course, except we did not have computers. The instructor for this course was very laid back and took pity on us because we were in the military serving our country. To pass this course I had to write a paper. I chose to write a paper on my military mentor, Walter McKinney, and his leadership style. Because I knew my instructor was easy – even somewhat lazy, I put half effort in the writing of the paper. When I interviewed my mentor and told him what I was doing, he was very flattered and offered to help me should I need it. I did not take his help because “it did not matter” because I knew I would get a good grade. So long story short, after doing some minor research, I sat down and hurriedly wrote the paper. This was in the spring of 1988 (21 years ago). This paper did not matter to me because I knew my teacher was easy and I would get at least a low “A” or high “B” on it. I turned my paper in and I gave a copy of the paper to my mentor. Now this was during the time when you had to type documents on a typewriter with carbon paper – did not have the fancy computers with spell check. Needless to say, my paper had some misspelled words and some other grammatical mistakes – which my mentor immediately noticed. As he read the paper quietly I knew he was not happy with what he read. When he finished the paper, he slowly placed it on his desk and looked me in the eye. He told me that he was ashamed that I did not put more effort into the paper. He stated that I was capable of producing something a lot better than what he saw before him. His words stung me and I was offended. I was offended because he had struck a cord – he knew that I did not put much time into it that paper because he knew me. He figured out quickly that the paper I wrote to honor him did not really matter to me and since it did not matter to me, I did not put much effort into it. When I got my paper back from my instructor, I actually got an “A” on the paper. I took it to my mentor to show him – as if to say “See, it was a good paper after all!” He looked at the “A” and looked at me and told me that the instructor giving me an “A” told him a lot about the instructor but it did not change the fact that I had done a poor job on it. Again I was offended because he knew that I had not done my best. What I learned years later was that this paper which did not matter to me mattered to him. And through this experience my mentor taught me that all things should matter to me, especially if it is my work, even if it does not matter to anyone else. I also learned that some things that do not matter to us right now might become important later so we should always give it our best.