Everybody has their quirks…I think. One of my favorite internal pastimes is making up games while I walk. I attempt to victoriously crunch every leaf that passes under my feet, and to the dismay of anybody walking behind me, I never miss an opportunity to skip over the cracks in the sidewalk as I walk down the street. So it would go that recently, as I wandered up and down an endlessly beautiful beach, I attempted to step in all the previously carved footsteps I could find in the sand.
After about forty feet of my mindless activity I looked back to observe that there was no trace of the steps I had taken in the sand, I had only deepened the steps of the individual who had walked on that beach before me.
In leadership, ministry, and all things life, I am learning quickly and sometimes not so quickly, that there will be seasons when I have the incredible opportunity to make a new path, yet there will also be highly significant seasons where my job is to deepen the footprints of another person or an effort that started before me.
In a world that admires rugged, creative individualism, and woos people with the glamour of answering to nobody, I believe there is something sacred and significant about looking at the footprints of the incredible individuals that came before us and not being afraid to learn from their journey, stand on their shoulders, and march in their victories.
A few months ago, at our weekly women’s gathering, I spoke to a woman who has been at our church for over 20 years, and recalled when our weekly meeting consisted of 30 women praying in the basement. As I stood in worship, surrounded by 500 other women, just a normal Thursday morning in my mind, I was distinctly aware that my weekly serving was merely adding to the decades of hard work and sacrifice that women had molded before me. Twenty years from now, when 5,000 women are gathering every week, it will be because each generation deepened the efforts of the one before.
I look at the hundreds of staff members and volunteers that I work alongside at The A21 Campaign every day and the truth is, except for our founders Nick and Christine Caine, most people are foggy as to who most of us are, and what exactly we do for the organization--but that is exactly how it should be, because we are deepening.
Bringing our gifts and experiences to a cause much bigger than ourselves- deepening.
Contributing ideas that will move us into the next season organizationally- deepening.
Giving nights and weekends to fulfill a vision that will save someone from the trenches of sex slavery- deepening.
Seeing nations change their approach to prosecuting traffickers- deepening.
I am finding that making a name for yourself is less about people knowing who you are, and more about creating change that will live beyond your name.
For some, the idea of deepening rather than creating from scratch is intimidating because most strong women, honestly and innocently, want to do something that has never been done before. I of all people understand this desire.
Luke 17:12 says, “And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?”
I believe that serving others and deepening the steps of those who have gone before us is actually the path of obedience that will release us into the things God has for our future. I am learning that we mustn’t be afraid of that journey. There is a beautiful rhythm that takes place in the adventure of deepening.
Five years ago, as an early twenty-something and international intern at the time, I sat in the Sydney, Australia office of A21 and read that scripture in Luke over and over again. That day I decided I was going to invest into the work of A21 with all of my heart, talents, and energy, and strive to see it thrive as if it were my very own. Today, I am working in a different office, in a different country, as a staff member, and managing a department. I am here not because of anything great I did but because I had a moment, five years ago, where I grasped the Kingdom principle of deepening.
At some point we will get to the end of someone else’s footprints and we begin to create new steps in the sand. We begin to take untouched ground and go places that have never been ventured before. When we become the molder, we are mindful that there is a generation who will come after us, deepening our steps and furthering our impact, just as we did for those who came before us.
Kayla is a Texas native, newlywed living in California. She started working at A21 in their Sydney office three years ago. She loves anything outdoors and is determined about the fight against human trafficking. Connect with her on her blog.