When you were growing up did your parents have a go to saying based off your repetitive actions? Something like: “Hey, don’t touch that.” , or “Ah, don’t eat that.” , or “Please put that down.” , or maybe (my mom’s favorite) “Leave it better than you found it.” I cannot think of a number high enough that would do justice to the number of times I was told “leave it better than you found it” or some variation of that statement. Growing up in a household that had limited income but plenty of people, there were not a lot of flashy materialistic things in our home. However, everyone in the house was encouraged, at a young age, to have respect for what we did have. Knowing anything about kids, you can imagine how difficult a task this was which is why the unofficial Sturgill household slogan was “leave it better than you found it”. Every time we were headed to a friend’s house, our grandparent’s house, or anywhere near someone else’s personal possessions we were reminded of this. The shear quantity of times I was told to leave something better than I found it as a child caused it to stick with me to this day. The older I have become the more I have realized how applicable this saying is to many facets of my life.
As a believer it is my responsibility to apply this saying to things like: friendships, relationships, and even my occupations. You may be wondering, “How so?”. And I would love to tell you! Let’s take friendships first. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” This means that within any friendship that I have one of two outcomes will occur: 1. I become a helpful, spiritual and physical sharpening friend. Or 2. I neglect my duties as a friend and become a harmful, spiritual and physical dulling friend. If my intentions are pure and I live up to the challenge given to me as a child to leave things better than I find them, it is obvious that my objective should be to sharpen my friends so that if time pulls us apart they reflect on our friendship as being a better person and more equipped to handle what life throws at them.
This is also applicable to relationships I have had and may have in the future. 2 Corinthians 6:14 says, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?”. Asking someone where they are at spiritually when you are interested in them relationally is a difficult crossroad to be at. In our culture today people are not too worried about being on the same level spiritually when it comes to choosing who you date, court, and eventually marry. I have fallen victim to this more times than I would like to admit. Even though this is true, I can take comfort in knowing that my spiritual walk is still in place even though there were times of darkness within some fellowships. Instead of relationships ending disastrously every time I have entered them unequally yoked, the majority have ended with both parties agreeing that seeking God would be more important than continuing the relationship. I cannot speak for the counterparts of these relationships, but looking back it appears that all involved are better off than before the relationship started.
Lastly, I have realized throughout the limited occupations I have had that this is applicable to them as well. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”. Every job I have had has been in the service industry (Chick-fil-A, Aubrey’s Restaurant, Camp). These jobs require a lot of interaction with others and open the door for people to create impressions of who they think you really are. I have not always succeeded at doing these jobs to the glory of God in all aspects of the job, but the overall experience and interactions I had with fellow employees was. I have been blessed to never have been fired from a job, but rather leave them all on good terms leaving all bridges built in tact. Thanks to the working of God in my life, I have been able to leave previous jobs with both employer and employee feeling better off.
I want to wrap this post up by saying a HUGE thank you to my mom for loving me enough to teach me the importance of leaving things better off than I found them! I would also like to extend the challenge to you. It is easy to go through life not caring about how your actions affect those around you, but it is rewarding being able to reflect on your life and know that throughout all your friendships, relationships, and occupations you left them better off than when they started.