Called not to coast

This Advent season, we have the opportunity to reflect on this deep and incredible commitment God has made – becoming human. We’ll consider four areas where Christ’s coming creates a new paradigm for the way we live.

Our theme in week three is Mindset. Christ’s example of humility (by lowering himself to human form) compels us to put others before ourselves. Out of love and service, our mindset shifts from ourselves to a focus on the interests of others.

Called not to coast

I’ve been a Christian since childhood, so the idea of humility and having the mindset of Christ has been very familiar to me. But practicing it? Well, I like to think I’m pretty good at humility, but that last sentence probably tells you otherwise.

Five years ago I got my big chance. I’d had what many would consider a successful career. I’d served four different organizations in three different states, and all of them had more or less been up and to the right. I was in my upper 50’s and, to be honest with you, now coasting a bit. But five years ago I met a man at a dinner party who told me about an organization he was with in Denver that was changing lives of inner city youth in dramatic ways. The more he talked,
the more I was intrigued, because I’m well aware of all the reasons the cycle of generational poverty is so hard to reverse and why our city problems never get fixed.

So I found a reason to get to Denver and check it out. What I saw was amazing. Urban youth in public high schools – hundreds of them – who would normally drop out and join gangs were vibrant, thriving, and healthy by all social and emotional metrics. I asked all the leaders and students I could about their experience and why it worked. Every story inspired me.

Flying back to Boston, I felt God speaking to me. “Start this here.” I was humbled. I couldn’t shake it. God was pointing me to all the cities around here where poverty was high, families were dysfunctional, schools were failing and kids were hopeless. “Start this here.” So in a move that I, my wife and family would never have envisioned, I began a brand new thing after age 60.

There’s a saying that Jesus came to save the least, the last and the lost, and though I in no way compare with Jesus, that is now my crowd too. Or should I say our crowd. We now have a growing team of people, urban and suburban both, working a plan that redeems urban young lives in Lowell, Lawrence and with plans for Lynn. I am humbled; I’m in the place I feel God has called me; I’m busier than I’ve ever been in my first 60 years, and I’m so grateful to the God of big surprises.

How might God be calling you to reach out to “the least, the last or the lost” in this season?

Story by Jim Pocock

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