Posted tagged ‘purpose’

That’s Gonna Leave a Mark

September 27, 2016

Dr. Steven J. Callis

Their names many not be immediately recognized, but Jeffrey Petkovich and Peter Debernardi were the first to ever survive the Horshoe Falls, going over the 176-foot-high Niagara Falls in a barrel.  They came out of the feat with only minor injuries – and an arrest!  They were fined for breaking Niagara Park laws.  Following that incident, the fine for anyone attempting this particular stunt was increased to $10,000 and confiscation of the barrel. 


I assume they were sober when they attempted this feat, and even when they thought of the idea.  On the side of their barrel were the words, “DON’T PUT YOURSELF TO THE EDGE – DRUGS WILL KILL YOU.”  So, the question in the minds of us non-risk-taking people: “Why?” 


Most of us can remember being part of a group where someone came up with a somewhat off-the-wall idea and, before we knew it, we were engaged in a risky, or dangerous, or senseless shenanigan.  Success or failure did not matter nearly so much as the fact that “we did it.”


Well, I suppose we can only speculate about this two-man barrel riding team, but one hypothesis can be based on the words of one of the team members – – DeBernardi was quoted as saying that it was a small price (injuries and fines) to pay to be immortalized in the history books. 


It worked.  Others may claim to have accomplished the same feat, but only these two can claim to have accomplished it first.  That fact of history will not change.  Of course, their names are not readily known across the world, but one minute of internet browsing can lead a person to the names of the first persons to survive Niagara Falls. 


They did it for the fame.  On the positive side, we could say that they wanted to leave a mark in this world; a legacy.  On the other hand, I am still wondering how their contribution to our world made life better for people.


C.T. Studd wrote a beautiful lyric that centered on this thought: Only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last. 

I am not opposed to having fun, nor do I insist that every single action we take should have serious meaning.  It is my conviction, however, that each of us should live life with purpose, and that the legacy we desire to leave with this world is one that positively and lastingly impacts the good of humankind.

When someone says of you, “Wow, that is going to leave a mark,” let it be a mark of goodness on our fellow man.


Purpose Above Circumstance

May 26, 2016

by Dr. Steven J. Callis

                Setting aside such logistics as finances, practicality, and suitability, what is that one vehicle that you would be driving today?  I was driving behind a car that might fit your dream, or mine.  It was one of those higher-end automobiles whose sticker price would cause many of us to wince.  What would a car like that do to your insurance premium?  Nevertheless, it was a very nice ride. 

                So I had to chuckle at the bumper sticker it displayed – yes, I thought the same thing: “Who in their right mind would place a bumper sticker on a 6o thousand dollar vehicle!  The message was simple:  “I’d rather be driving a Titleist.”  For those of you who may not know, Titleist is a brand of golf ball.  So apparently, he drives a dream car, and golf drives him.

                If people are passionate enough about a thing to warrant branding their vehicles with bumper stickers, we can learn a lot about them!  “A bad day fishing is better than a good day at work.”  What about those proud parents: “My child is an honor student at …” I saw one that read, “If you can read this, thank a teacher;” and a similar one in a small print, “If you can read this, you’re driving too close.”

                What is it that drives you when your feet hit the floor each morning?  We awaken with certain obligations which call for our attention, but what is your true passion?  There may be three or four passions in your life, but likely not more than that.  True passions tend to consume us; they are the matters of life around which everything else exists.

                Recently in the news was an elementary school teacher.  Most teachers I know love their job, and many see it as more of a calling than a career; and they love their students.  Hearing of her high school daughter’s tragic accident less than a mile away, she immediately left her class and was at her daughter’s side in only a couple of minutes.  Even our passions are set by priority.

                What do we do, then, when circumstances bring significant challenges in to the mix of life?  How do we cope with discouragement, with setbacks, and with what the world might call failures? What is our response when it all seems out of whack?  Does your frustration ever push you to the edge?

                A passion is usually some matter in life for which we are willing to sacrifice, to bleed, possibly even to die; it drives us, motivates us.  Our passion provides for us a point of reference when we become uncertain about who we are or what we are supposed to do.  A bumper sticker for it might read, “Purpose above circumstance.”  Our lives should be driven by purpose, and not by circumstances.

                Looking at it from the perspective of Christian faith, Lloyd John Ogilvie writes, “When we are filled with the depression we often feel resulting from our own judgments on ourselves and others, He comes and shows us that He has a task for us which is part of His strategy for changing the world.” 

                Too often we allow circumstances to distort our perspective which alters our thoughts and emotions.  It is true that there will always be challenges in life that upset our plans and practices.  Rather than living ‘under the circumstances,’ I choose to live within my purpose.  Therein is found the will to persevere, the courage to keep moving forward, and a peace of heart and mind, knowing that I have stayed the course of my life’s passion.  

Is Your Game Face On?

August 24, 2013

Is Your Game Face On?

By Steven J. Callis


Little Larry was a new student in Miss Collins’ kindergarten class.  She asked him if he could name the four seasons of the year.  Larry proudly replied, “Winter, Spring, Summer, and Football!”

Yes, it’s that time again for the bears and wildcats and rams and cougars and lions and bulldogs and pioneers and warriors to hit the gridiron.  The most common nickname in college sports is the Eagle, followed by the Panthers, and then the Tigers.  College nicknames tend to follow in line with traditional mascots, but there are some exceptions.  For example, this fall you might see the Scorpions, Blue Hose, Bonnies, Johnnies, Tommies, Trolls, Horned Frogs, Jumbos, Gila Monsters, and my favorite, the Fighting Pickles playing football.

However, I have not found a helmet or uniform that is adorned with a mouse.  I suppose that is reserved for online schools only.  Every student gets to hold the mascot during online class!

No matter how common a school’s nickname may or may not be, it does seem to serve as an identifier, and also a unifier.  We take pride in who we are, and what we represent.  We wear our colors, protect our mascot, paint our faces, and with raised index finger shout at the TV camera as it spans our section of the bleachers, “We’re number one!”

And among that fan-atical crowd we find distinctions in gender, race, economics, grade point averages, politics, and interests, all united under one name that we bear with passion.  We have rallied for a cause.

My senior year in high school was in a brand new school that merged 4 existing schools into one.  Few of the seniors were happy about having to leave their true alma mater for one year at a new school. There were many challenges, obstacles, and conflicts to overcome.  One event that helped to unify this befuddled and somewhat belligerent student body was the privilege of determining the school nickname from a list of 3 choices.  With overwhelming solidarity, we became the Raiders, and many years later that school still stands and bears the Raider emblem.  Our game face was red, white, and blue.

What does your game face look like, in life, that is?  What drives you?  What is the passion that motivates you?  What does it look like when you are living from the center of your heart?  More poignantly, how does that passion impact those around you: your family, friends, school, church, workplace, and community?  How does that passion effect your world?

In the past it was called “giving it 110%.”  Today, athletes are exhorted to “leave it all on the field.”  Oh, that it could be said of me when I leave this earth, “He left it all on the field, and he did it for the glory of Christ.”

What is the Main Thing for You?

May 6, 2013

What is the Main Thing for You?
By Steven J. Callis

     On a trip to Kentucky a few years ago, I found the opportunity to tour the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory. The 2-story high baseball bat at the entrance to the building was a sure sign that I was in for a treat. According to their website, the total weight of the bat is approximately 68,000 pounds. The hollow interior has a 30,000 gallon capacity. The bat is constructed of ASTM A36 carbon steel, 120 ft. long and 9 ft. diameter at the base; 3 ft. 6 in. diameter at the handle with a 6 ft. 6 in. diameter knob.
     After a brief introductory film, my group of about 20 persons was led on a guided tour through the factory where the bats are made. We saw ordinary people at their posts throughout the assembly area, performing their specific task in the process of creating a baseball bat. I laughed within myself as I realized these people do the same task day after day, a simple routine for them, and people like me pay to fascinatedly watch them run a piece of wood through a machine that has been carefully set to specific dimensions for that particular batch of bats.
     This company specializes in producing baseball bats. They have not branched out into hockey sticks or bolo paddles or canoe oars. Just baseball bats. Producing 5,000 bats daily in their peak season, and with 60% of major league players using the Louisville Slugger, they have found their niche. In recent years the company has branched out into making baseball gloves and gear, but the baseball bat continues to be their main focus.
     Interestingly, the company began as a woodworking shop, manufacturing primarily butter churns. About 12 years later, the founder’s son began making baseball bats for himself as a minor league player, and for some of his teammates. By 1923, the company was selling more bats than any other bat maker in the country.
     They put into practice a philosophy that would later be prescribed by Stephen Covey – the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. This company found their niche, then focused and perfected their craft. After manufacturing butter churns and bedposts and balusters, it was the baseball bat that proved to be their most marketable product.
     You and I can be good at several things, but discovering that one thing that seems to perfectly fit our abilities and resources and purpose is the consummate attainment. The main thing does not have to be the only thing, but we must not allow secondary pursuits to distract us from that which has become our driving force for direction in life. For most of us, that main thing involves leaving our mark of goodness on the lives of others and making a positive difference in our world – truly a worthy goal.

Love What you do

March 30, 2012

Love What You Do – by Steven Callis

I once attended a PGA golf tournament in Charlotte, NC.  Near the clubhouse was a walkway where all the players must travel to reach the golf course.  I stood there for about 45 minutes seeing players walk within 3-5 feet of me, and I wondered what was going through their minds as they were either beginning or ending their round of golf.

Several of the players acknowledged the fans as they passed, and a few of them acted as though they did not even see the crowd.  Fans would sometimes wish a player good luck or “Go get ’em, Phil.”  At one point a well-known golfer in his twelfth year on the Tour walked by and one of the fans said, “Have fun out there.”  Without stopping or missing a beat the player continued walking as he replied, “Can anybody really have fun playing golf?”

I realize many things could have been in his mind at that moment.  He may have been joking, or he may have been missing his family, frustrated by something that happened in the preliminaries, or not feeling well – I certainly do not judge him on that single comment, but it did cause me to think:  man, you get paid to play golf everyday on the world’s most beautiful courses!  The weekend golfer would jump at the opportunity to play free golf, especially on such high caliber golf courses.

Understandably, no matter what a person does for a living, it can sometimes feel like a burden, a routine, joyless, and unappreciated.  Professional golfers work very hard, and their work takes them away from home and family for 5-6 days every time they enter a tournament.  They spend more time practicing and training than they do playing the actual events.  Their paycheck or reward is based, in part, on how well they perform, but also on how their competition performs.  It is very hard work, but I believe they turned professional because they love the game.

Whatever one’s role in life, there likely will be days when the role seems more of a challenge and duty than a blessing and privilege.  Discipline gets us through those difficult days, but desire and a healthy perspective restore the joy and appreciation for the role we are called to play.  Despite those occasional days when it feels like an uphill battle, following my call and fulfilling my God-ordained purpose makes it possible for me to love what I do.

In the movie, The Rookie, Jim was recruited by a minor league baseball team, but was homesick, tired, and financially stretched at home.  Weary of the game he loved and feeling defeated by the process of moving up to the big leagues, he decided to quit baseball.  However, something happened that night to change his mind and perspective, and he entered the locker room the next day with a smile on his face, “You know what we get to do today, Brooks?  We get to play baseball!”