(originally posted in 2013)
YouthWalk, the magazine i edited for ten years, won numerous awards after i left.
my friends, Laurin and Travis, did a great job in my absence and they won some accolades for their efforts.
i’m proud of them.
but it’s hard to find the words to tell them.
you see, i tried to win that same award year after year.
i desperately wanted to know that everything i was pouring into the magazine was good enough.
that my writing was on par with other professionals.
that the ways we were shifting and changing the magazine were elevating the publication to the same level as other youth magazines.
i would sit at the banquet every year, praying they would call my name.
they called it once, as a runner up.
i should be 100 percent happy for them.
and i am happy, but there’s just some ugliness there.
because i have to confess something.
when i leave something, i want it to fail.
yes, you heard that right.
i want it to crumble apart.
i want it to be a shadow of its former self.
and here’s why: i want to know that i was so important to whatever, that when i left, it fell apart without me.
i know, it’s crazy.
well, maybe, you’re thinking, i kind of feel the same.
maybe it’s not a job, but you want a church to fall apart after you leave.
or a neighborhood.
or a town after you move away.
or a team you were on.
there’s some part of each one of us that desperately wants to know that we matter, that we are a significant part of what is going on.
and there’s a dark part of some of us that wants to know that without us, things just can’t go on the same, that they fell apart without us.
but what if there’s another way to look at?
what if instead of falling apart, things got better?
yeah, i know. the fear then is that i was the one holding it back.
but what if what i did, positioned the next person for success?
what if the investment i made moved something to success and accolades?
sure, i would like to have a plaque on the wall, to put “award winner” on my resume.
but maybe i’m the guy who sets other people up for success.
but then again, it would also mean that this life is not all about me.
that maybe i’m part of something bigger.
my dad always told me that if i borrowed something, to return in the same condition or better.
and the opportunities i’ve had, have been moments that i borrowed.
and i hope that i’m leaving things better than i found them—instead of leaving ruins and debris wherever i’ve been.
(UPDATE: After scheduling this blog for a repost, I found out via email that an article I wrote for a publication won first place. God has an interesting sense of timing. And while it’s incredibly encouraging and affirming to win, I still want to make sure I’m leaving things better than I found them.)
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