Growing up, one of my favorite things about watching Little House on the Prairie was watching how the Ingalls family met challenges and chased after goals, both as individuals and as a family. Watching Pa work late into the night on someone’s wagon wheel so that Laura could get some shoes or Mary could buy a train ticket did something to my insides and made me want to go after something important. It still does.
I get the same feeling when I watch Danielson wax two dozen old cars for Mr. Miyagi so that he can learn karate and beat that mean old Johnny in the tournament. I also get it when I watch Akeela practice for her spelling bee with her neighborhood people. The funny thing is that it’s not really the moment in these stories where the hard work pays off and the antagonist wins that charges me up; it’s when they are just flat out working hard, the outcome uncertain.
Commitment. Passion. Those are the things that inspire and drive me, not success.
Of course, I like it when hard work pays off and the audience applauds, but I find that God tends to give me a lot of behind the scenes jobs to do instead. I’ve fixed a lot of “wagon wheels” alone in my metaphorical barn, and I’m pretty sure no one is going to base a hit series on my efforts. But, here’s what I’m hoping. I hope that, years from now, when people that I’ve spent a lot of time with, my family, my friends, my youth group kids, and my students, are on the edge of accomplishing something worth cheering for, they go ahead and finish and maybe even win big because watching me work on “wagon wheels” did something to their insides way back when.