With our grandchildren heading back to school this fall, I'm in flashback mode. To when it was our cherubs leaving for school each morning.
It was always exciting getting to the point where they could leave. The war cries of "Who stole my socks?" and "I can't believe the dog ate my homework!" (which was strange - we didn't have a dog). Getting up a little later each morning, thus having to set new records for dressing your body and brushing your dragon mouth. Pity the person who happened to be standing between them and the back door at launch time.
But I did have time to shout two words as they charged down the back stairs - "GO MAD!" The neighbor probably thought I had taken my own advice. But "GO MAD!" had nothing to do with insanity (although I sometimes think my sons took it literally). It was shorthand for "Go Make A Difference!" Because that's exactly what I wanted them to do at school.
We told our children that you're not going to school just to make grades or make friends or make a team or make an impression. And certainly not to make out! We wanted them to know they were on a mission each day - because they're God's kids. They didn't have to go with the mindset of playing defense because they belong to Jesus. "I'm just trying to survive" is almost a guarantee you won't. We wanted them to be thinking offense each day - not tiptoeing onto the field, but running!
I remember one day when our young daughter came home from school, troubled by the language, the lies and the dirty talk of her classmates. I told her, "Honey, that makes you the most important person in that class. If it weren't for you, those kids would think everyone talks dirty...everyone tells lies...everyone disrespects their parents...everyone is mean to people. But as long as you're there, you're the proof there's another way to be! You're God's 'make a difference' girl! You're Jesus' personal representative in your class."
By God's grace, our daughter and our sons did GO M.A.D. years later, they are still being Facebooked and e-mailed by former classmates who need a "make a difference" person. Their influence has followed them across the years.
Over the years, I've encouraged thousands of young people to GO M.A.D. - and thousands of parents to raise a MADman or a MADwoman. But it all started at our back door as three little Hutchcrafts headed for their personal mission field. To change things, not to survive.
Not a bad attitude to have as you're headed for the office, for the shop, for the meeting. Jesus said, "You are the light of the world" (Matthew 5:16). When Jesus said that, He was explaining why each of us is the most important person in any place we find ourselves. Because it's dark without the Jesus-person in the room.
The good news is that it doesn't take a lot of light to change the environment. You don't need a light bulb as big as the dark room to illuminate it. And - as I found with a single candle when the power went out - the darker the darkness, the more the light shows up. Jesus went on to say, "They will see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." If we show them the Jesus-difference, we can tell them Who is our Difference-Maker.
Isn't it cool that belonging to Jesus isn't so much about playing defense as it is playing offense? Not being offensive, but intentionally showing people the hope that there really is another way to be.
In a way, Jesus is there every day as we each head out the door to our battlefield - and His sendoff sounds something like this: "GO M.A.D. today!"