Three guesses on where the following paragraph is from:
“As a company, we genuinely care about the well-being of others. By donating our time and resources, we make a difference in our community. We achieve more collectively than we ever could individually. We enhance lives.”
Hopefully, that was easy and you were quick to yell on your first guess, “That’s our third value statement!”
Last week, I saw this statement being lived out and in doing so, we made some memories I won’t soon forget. In true VU fashion, a bunch of our people volunteered after work and played games, did crafts and shared a meal with a community that is often marginalized.
If you don’t know (which I didn’t until last week), Woodhaven is a community of people committed to serving adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It’s been around since 1964, and the company’s goal is to be defined by their passion for the people they serve. “We are on a mission to change their (the disabled community) lives by empowering them to find and define success on their own terms. Our work is not about doing things for the individuals we support, but about giving them the opportunity to do things for themselves.”
In reflecting on the night, my heart was full, remembering Angela’s smile at the photo booth and Kathy’s delight as she finished decorating a new sunhat. And once again, God reminded me of an important lesson that when I don’t put it into practice, I seem to forget.
In Romans 12:2, Paul says, “Do not be conformed to this world, but continuously be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you may be able to determine what God’s will is—what is proper, pleasing, and perfect.”
While there are many practical ways to renew your mind, one way that I often overlook comes in the act of serving others. There is something about loving, giving and meeting the needs of others in a relational context, that demonstrates God’s will in a very tangible way.
God created us to need other people to grow. Even scientific research in the area of neuroplasticity confirms this. What is neuroplasticity? Simply put, brain plasticity, or neuroplasticity, refers to the brain’s ability to change as a result of experience. Research shows that loving, serving and meeting the needs of others is nourishment for our brain. Knowing others (and allowing them to know you) will change who you are. It can be a power food for the brain.
God created us to be in both vertical and horizontal relationships – with God (vertically) and with those around us (horizontal). It is in these relationships that we learn about God’s grace to us and then where we put His grace into action by serving those around us. In doing so, not only are our hearts full, but our brains are stimulated and we are, in a sense, transformed by the experience.
God meets all of our needs, but not all of our needs are met through Him. People are an essential means by which we grow in Christ. It’s the way we are wired and it’s the way the individuals from Woodhaven are wired – because we are all God’s children.