Last night, I watched as a grown man pitched a fit. It is not an uncommon occurrence. Watch people for a little bit and you will see it happen as soon as someone does not get exactly what they want, exactly how they want it, exactly when they want it.
This particular fit happened in the dining car of Amtrak’s Silver Meteor, somewhere in the vicinity of Charleston, North Carolina. It was the 8pm dinner service. The man was already irritated that they did not seat the 8pm reservations until 8pm, but when he learned that Amtrak dining cars use “community seating” (4 to a table wether you know each other or not) he got angry. He wanted a table for just himself and his wife. He yelled at the dining car attendant and stormed out.
Bewildered Amtrak employees laughed, and one said, “There are 300 people on this train and one dining car, how in the world did he expect to get a table to himself?”
He expected it because like most of us, he had the belief that despite 299 other people on the same closed system as himself, he was the most important. That train will not move without an engineer. That train will not sit people without a conductor. That train will not serve food without a chef. That train (and the dinner service) seems ok without him.
He is no different than the rest of us. We all tend to forget that there are a lot of people in our world, and it is not centered on us.
As Christians, we can really forget this. We wonder, “What is God’s will for my life” (a question never asked in scripture). We assume that God has this grand plan, starring none other than ME! The truth is, that God does have a grand plan, starring Jesus. There are billions of extras, but one one star.
But, Aaron, you say, how do I matter at all?
You matter. You matter in Christ. When you share in His work, you share in all the most important stuff. You also matter because an extra in God’s story is not worthless.
Think of a painting. A great painting. A painting from a master. The kind hung in the finest galleries and auctions for untold millions.
You are in that painting. You are not the subject. In fact, you are just a brush stroke. But you are the brush stroke of a master!
The thing is this: Once you realize that you aren’t the center of everything, you can stop worrying about whether or not you are getting what you deserve. Then you become more aware of all that is around you and become a larger part of all that God is doing in the world.
After 3 days of the John Maxwell Team International Certification Event, I have a lot to process. Certainly there are some personal changes to make, as well as a lot of good stuff for a project I have looming head. All of that leaves me with a lot to blog about.
Today, I will once again board a train (a coworker called me “old fashioned”) and begin that long trip back home. When I miss home, and that is often, I wish I had flown, but with so much to process I am glad I took the train. I’ll find a nice spot to settle in with my notes and a new book or two and begin making some plans.
One thing I am left thinking about is something that was said during lunch. People were going around the table sharing what they hope to do with all of this training. When it was my turn, I explained my experience in ministry, my depression breakdown, and my recovery and how I hope to go in to churches and tell my story.
“Is there a market for that?” One man asked.
“Every time I tell my story,” I replied, “I am contacted by someone that tells me that after hearing my story they began getting the help they need.”
“Sure, “ the man said, “it helps that one person, but I don’t think its a business model.”
I began to wonder if this man was paying much attention to John Maxwell.
“Well, I also have a book being published along these lines. Books can promote speaking gigs and speaking gigs promote books.”
He shrugged and then left the table.
“Hey,” The man sitting next to me said as people began leaving the table. “Yesterday a friend of mine called me. He’s really worried about this guy he knows and he was asking me for advice. This guys is really depressed, and I mean REALLY depressed. They are worried about him but nobody knows how to help.”
We spent the next half hour discussing depression and ways to get help. Then he left to make a phone call to pass along what I had said.
Every. single. time.
1 in 5 people struggle with Depression or Anxiety and 80% of those people never seek help. So just to be clear, I am not interested in whether or not this dream of mine is a business. I want to tell my story as often as I can to as many people as I can. If it makes a little impact every time, then eventually it makes a big impact.
Keep making a little impact!
Aaron Davis is an author, speaker, and life coach. His novel, "Street Preacher" is available now and his memoir, "Baggage Claim: my journey through depression, ministry, and finding peace" will be released in the Summer of 2017! If you would like to have Aaron speak to your church, ministry, or organization, contact him here.
In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig said, “Our goal is to make good time, with the emphasis on good rather than time.” He was talking about taking a 300cc Honda motorcycle across the country, but the same could be said of rail travel. Over the past couple of days I have decided that time is the only thing air travel has to offer. Riding by rail cannot compete there (though some corridors boast a faster car door to car door time). However, in every other regard, this trip leaves me thinking that flying is for the birds.
Understand that I have flown on lots of different aircraft in my life. I’ve flown on all the major US airlines, KLM, and even on a Yakolov “yak” 40 operated by AirKazakhstan. I’m not against flying. But if you aim to emphasize good over time, here is what you will find on the rails:
I’m no rail travel expert. This is the first time I have ever traveled by rail. But after spending the last two days on board, I think I can say this: If you aim to make good time, emphasizing the good rather than the time, it is hard to beat the rails.
Aaron Davis is the author of the novel, "Street Preacher" and the upcoming memoir, "Baggage Claim: My Journey Through Depression, Ministry, and Finding Peace." For information on having Aaron speak at your church or organization, click here.
When I announced my Baggage Claim project I made three goals:
1. Become a certified speaker and coach with the John Maxwell team
2. Use that certification to speak to churches and organizations about mental health and to coach pastors and ministry leaders regarding health and burnout
3. Write a book detailing my own experience and the process of claiming my own emotional baggage
As I write, I am on my way to the John Maxwell Group certification event AND I am happy to announce that my book has been accepted by a publisher! There is much to be done moving from rough draft to publication, but we are aiming for a July release
I greatly appreciate everyone who has supported me thus far. Stay tuned...
I am going on a trip.
Those familiar with the Baggage Claim project will know that one goal of that project was to prepare myself to be a professional speaker and life coach. I chose to go through the John Maxwell Group for that preparation, and it is time for me to go to the certification event in Orlando. However, I chose a rather unusual way to get there.
I am taking the train. Taking the train is not unusual. Lots of people take trains everyday. However, taking the train from St. Louis to Orlando is probably a bit odd. The route goes from St Louis to Chicago, then to Washington DC, and then to Orlando. When I tell people this, everyone asks “why?”
The train is cheaper than flying, a few hundred less at the time I booked my tickets. It made some financial sense (although if I were employed at the time of booking, I would not have opted for the longer trip). From what I hear, the train involves less stress than flying. Bonus!
Driving would have been cheaper and shorter, but recovery has a cost. In learning to make healthy choices regarding depression, I realize that I should not be alone in a car for 15 hours. There is more to this reason, I understand, and perhaps I will write more on it soon.
In the end, my wife and I decided that this train trip could accomplish a few things. First, it gets me to Orlando to complete the certification process. Next, it gives me some down time. This down time will be used for reading, writing, and processing everything this conference will be teaching. Finally, it fulfills a long held desire of mine to ride the rails. I promise to be dignified and reserved on the platform, but inside, I’ll be like this:
There is the added bonus of getting to visit my brother and some old friends along the way. I will be posting lots of updates and travelogs so stay tuned! It promises to be quite a week!
Author, Parent, Husband, Christ-follower