Learning to Live, Rather Than Compare Your Calling: A Lesson From Tim Harris

July 24, 2013

I love this guy, Tim.TimsPlace

Last week, this story came to my attention.  It only has a million or so views, so there’s a good chance you haven’t seen it.  It’s well worth your three minutes.  I’ve linked up to it at the end of this post.

The long and short of it is that when Tim was a teenager, he dreamed of owning his own restaurant.  And now he does.  His restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and…hugs.  Hugs are free, but you have to order one, and they are all delivered by Tim himself.

Oh, by the way, Tim has Down’s Syndrome.

I love Tim’s story, because it proves so fantastically the truth that I try to convince my students – and myself – of every day, the truth of the value of our work, and finding our calling.

This is what Tim’s story tells me:

The Reality, but Not Finality of Limitations

Tim’s upfront and honest.  He knows what his limitations are, that he’s dealing with Down’s Syndrome.  There’s no getting around it.

Look, we all have limitations placed on us.  They come in the form of limits on our time, our money, our energy, our physical and mental talents.  And we have a choice to make – are we going to be defeated by our limitations, or are we going to work within those limitations and still do something great.  Sadly, I think the mentality that people embrace far too often is the former, rather than the latter.

The Value of Calling

I have no doubt in my mind that Tim is doing what he was placed on Earth by God to do.  He is living out his calling.

You know, it really really bothers me that ministry is sometimes referred to as the “highest calling.”  I suppose teachers, doctors, soldiers, parents and just about every profession can get a little bit prideful and pronounce their calling “higher” than others.

You know what the result is?  People are insecure that they aren’t “doing enough” with their lives.

Guess what: if God called you to do what you are doing, then you are doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing.  There is no comparing callings when they come from God himself!  The point of a calling is not what it is, but Who has placed it on your heart.

The Value of Everyone’s Work

I hold my students to high standards.

That doesn’t mean I hold them to uniform standards.  Every child is going to accomplish something different in my class.  That’s what makes art class more like real life than say, math class, where every child has to get the same answer.

Now, let me ask you this: does an “un-talented” child’s work lack value because he doesn’t have the same level of talent that another child has?  Not if he is trying his best and working as if he were working for the Lord.

An analogous question: By some measures, Tim’s achievements are very modest.  Owning a restaurant is not that big a deal to a lot of people.  Does that mean that Time’s work is not valuable?  Are his accomplishments not worthy because he hasn’t written a book, invented something new, cured a disease or won an award?

Of course not.  But you know, we all get one little corner of the planet and we have the job of stewarding it and making it the best we can.  It’s only when our personal accomplishments are integrated into the fabric of humanity that they mean something.  Make the little corner of Earth God gave you the best it can be.

Whatever Some People Need to Feel Good

Finally, this last point didn’t come to me until I read a few of the comments on YouTube, which is never a good idea.  I warn you not to unless you want to retch in disgust.  They were predictable – people making themselves feel better by making lame jokes about a “retarded” person…just like in middle school.

The comments go to show that some people will do anything they can to prop themselves up, ultimately because they don’t feel all that great about their lives, their work or their accomplishments.  But tearing down someone else or being negative won’t make your life any more satisfying, and it sure won’t diminish how satisfied Tim is with himself.  Tim has had a lot of limitations placed on him, and he’s doing more with what he’s got than half of us have the guts to try.  Myself included.

Watch the video and tell me what you think.  What doesn’t Tim’s story illustrate to you?  Are you living out your calling like he is?

I’ll be out of town on Friday as I attend Echo Conference in Dallas, but I’ll see you again on Monday.


5 responses to Learning to Live, Rather Than Compare Your Calling: A Lesson From Tim Harris

  1. Ah, YouTube comments…where civility and good sense goes to die…

  2. Great video — very inspiring and uplifting.
    Thanx for sharing.

    However to think that some daddy in the sky dreamt us up, then put his idea in our mothers and sits there watching to see if we do exactly as he hoped is a bad idea.

    Most of the planet has almost no choice in their jobs. Much of the world has no real choice in mates. Thus talking about finding a god’s “calling” for your job is like telling people to try to find their “soul” mate.

    The secular version (no gods, spooks or demons) that I tell my kids (and try to demonstrate) is:
    (1) Think of a job where you can supply sustenance to your family
    (2) Think of a job you actually can enjoy to some degree
    (3) Think of a job where you don’t harm others
    (4) Whatever job you have, do it with love and attention as much as possible
    (5) Whatever job you have, think of others and not just yourself

    Maybe that is close to what you mean by “God’s Calling” but without the guilt or not finding the right job or the right spouse …..

  3. I love this, Matt!! It hits close to home. My sister has special needs. Growing up with her has taught me many things, but watching her live within and oftentimes beyond her limitations has been an inspiration. Thank you for speaking out about this topic and for challenging each of us to live fully to the glory of God despite each of our limitations!

  4. Great Post Matt. I am not sure how God orchestrates it all but yours is the third post I have read this week about something along these lines including my post today “Lights, Camera, Action – Jesus”
    If I believed in coincidences I’d say hmmm, but since I believe in the Holy Spirit I’ll say – someone somewhere is trying to tell someone somewhere something important – maybe me?

  5. If you ever see Tim again, give him a big hug for me.