Why what you do matters

What you do matters.

Sure, that sounds like one of those nice sentimental thoughts you’ll find on a motivational poster at the office.

It’s much easier to say than to believe. But that’s only because we cannot not see, this side of heaven, all the ways our contributions make a difference in the world.

This truth was powerfully illustrated back in 1958 by Leonard Read in his profound little essay, I, Pencil. Told from the perspective of a pencil, I, Pencil: My Family Tree as told to Leonard E. Read, describes the vast network of contribution required to bring a pencil into being. The video above captures the essence of the essay, though the original work is worth the read as well.

As I read this essay, I was both humbled and encouraged. Humbled by the fact that I cannot truly, independently, create anything on my own accord. I’m dependent on others for everything I produce. Even those ideas I may foolishly believe to originate with me are formed from the foundations laid by others.

But I was also encouraged. What I have done and will do matters. That completed project matters. That meeting to resolve a conflict matters. That word of encouragement matters.

The fact that I cannot see all the ways it matters makes it no less true. You can put that on a poster somewhere.

What stood out to you about Read’s essay?

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2 thoughts on “Why what you do matters

  1. Leary –
    Thanks for the interesting post and great reminder about “I, Pencil”. You and your readers might be interested in the growing network of “faith and work” resources and organizations out there, such as the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics, the Kern Pastor’s Network, and the Center for Faith & Work at Redeemer Presbyterian Church. Hope you find these resources helpful!

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