The Power of Cleaning Up

There is a video going around the internet of Dak Prescott, the rookie super-star quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. He tries to throw away a paper up, misses the trashcan, then gets up to retrieve the cup and drop it into the trashcan.

A small act, but not a common one (especially if you have young boys).

It reminds me of a lesson I learned years ago; from one of my mentors, Harold Bullock, and others at Hope Church in Fort Worth, TX.

Always leave a place better than you found it.

Years ago I was leading a men’s group at Hope Church. At the time there were about 8 or 9 guys–mostly single, in their 20’s and 30’s, active–a great group of guys. We met weekly for prayer, conversation, Bible study. Some of us ran together, some of us played softball together, we did service projects together. We lived life together, what I believe small groups are meant to do.

One year we went on a group retreat. Mark, a member of the group, offered to let us use his parents’ lake house a couple hours away. So on a Friday afternoon, we piled into a couple cars and drove to the lake house.

For two and a half days we fished, ate, hiked, played football, read, prayed, and learned. I found a great ESPN ad for the NHL, identifying different types of players, and how those categories translate to life. I used that ad to talk about the roles each of us in the group had; how we all contributed to make the group a success. (You can see the ad here.)

It was an incredible weekend of fellowship, challenge and encouragement. On Sunday afternoon we were getting ready to leave. We assigned areas and cleaned up the house and yard.

The last thing we did was gather in a circle, and I asked each guy to briefly share one thing they got out of the weekend. As we went around the circle, guys talked about how great it was to look at the relationships within the group, getting away for a couple days, etc.

Mark was sitting across from me, and he looked…different. Mark was usually somewhat quiet. He was an engineer, brilliant, and not one to show emotion. But I could tell something was going on.

When it was Mark’s turn to share, he looked nervous. “When I was in college, I used to bring friends down here to spend the weekend. By¬†Sunday, the place was pretty trashed. My friends would leave to go back to school, and I’d spend all day Sunday cleaning up. When you guys all jumped in and cleaned the entire place…” his voice began to crack…
“I can’t tell you how much that meant to me.”

That weekend, and the way the guys served Mark, had an impact on Mark’s life (and the rest of us). Little acts of service are big.

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