Missouri Jaycees March 2019 Devotional

“An intentional life is striving for every moment you live to have kingdom impact, and stewarding your gifts, talents, resources, and opportunities to turn the world upside down. The more you operate in your sweet spot, the more you’ll feel an inexplicable sense of joy and peace. As you gain clarity of who you are because of whose you are, you’ll be able to reorder and realign your five spheres of influence (self, family, team, organization, community) around your calling.”  – Paul Sohn

When I first moved from Palm Springs, California to Hannibal, Missouri I had a few ideas of what I could do in my community. In seeking a new identity I had to learn how to integrate into this new culture. I was raised in a social sphere of Southern California Christian Hippies. It might be hard to imagine, but it’s true. During the “Jesus Movement” in the early 70’s thousands upon thousands of young people were suffering from an existential crisis. That is when Chuck Smith from Calvary Chapel offered a ministry of love, acceptance, and an exploration of purpose.

Mid-west America is not exactly a place for hippies. I had to learn how to live in a community of country music, lifted trucks without mufflers, bud light, drugs, and lots of farms and farming equipment. I took the training I had received in my early twenties, applied my skills and shared them with anyone who was willing to give me a shot. One acquaintance asked me in 2014, “What made you decide to become a gelato maker in a dutch chocolate store in downtown Hannibal?” and my answer was simple, “An empty checking account.” 

We can get so excited about the possibility of starting a new chapter in our lives that we become hyperactive optimists and leave the pragmatist far behind, when the wise thing to do it let them tag along. Was it something I wanted to do for the rest of my life? Not at all, but it was something I did in the meantime to build relationships and demonstrate a commitment to excellence. To this day, the owner of that store says the gelato machine has never been as clean as when I used to work there. 

I was discouraged at times, but I never lost sight of the fact that if I keep to my faith and family values, this would not be forever, this would be a stepping stone onto something greater, and if I give it my best, I will be ready for what comes next. Years later I found myself as a chaplain for a hospital, a service organization, and disaster relief coalition. I could not have predicted the life that was ahead of me, but with the support of faith, family, and friends, I would not have it any other way.  

Plenty of people are working in low wage jobs that they do not enjoy, or they have found themselves in circumstances beyond their control plunging them into depression or resentment toward the world. As Missouri Jaycees we were intended to be a place to build people up in business, leadership, and purpose while supporting our community. I can think of no other age group that needs direction and support than mid-west quarter-life Americans. We are an organization that is founded on investment of people, thereby investing in communities. We should be an organization that offers love, acceptance, and exploration of purpose. It is up to each chapter and its membership to decide on what kind of culture we will be, and how our community will see us. Let us reimagine our chapters, which are founded on core values and move forward with an investment in young people, never being afraid of new ideas and new opportunities to evolve and grow together.

When we relearn what we have learned, and practice what we preach, that is when young people discover that we are indeed authentic, and they are desperately seeking authenticity. We should do all that we can to encourage young people in our chapters to succeed by giving our young members wisdom from what others have learned (what works and what doesn’t), giving them opportunities to grow where others have succeeded, giving them acceptance to show they have value, and at all times remembering that the brotherhood of man transcends the sovereignty of nations. 

Serving together,

John Paul Tomko, Chaplain

Recommended reading: ‘Quarter-Life Calling: Pursuing Your God Given Purpose In Your Twenties’ by Paul Sohn Click Here to order.