I feel like talking about mangoes this week. Not because they are my favorite; they are not. But I do love mangoes, and whenever I find myself at Smoothie King - which is more often that I would care to admit - I either ask for Mango-Ginger or Veggie-Mango. But this piece is not necessarily about Mangoes, it is about doing more than the minimum. The point is, each one of us can do the basic, we can all accomplish the basic responsibility, but can we, or do we, have the zest to do more than the minimum?
There is a story I read a few days ago about two colleagues, Austin and Carey, who grew up in the same neighborhood, went to the same grade school, middle school, and high school. They have known each other since they were kids and been friends all their lives. One important fact - they graduated from college with the same major and, as fate will have it, they were then employed by the same company with the same entry level position.
At the end of their first year, one of them, Austin, was promoted but Carey was not. When Carey learned that he was not promoted but Austin was, he became so incensed because he genuinely believed that an injustice had been perpetrated on him. He then walked straight into the CEO’s office to complain about the situation. Upon meeting the CEO, he expressed his disappointment and requested an explanation.
Across from the lobby of the high-rise office building where they worked were street hawkers of vegetables and fruits, including mangoes. The CEO asked Carey to go down and check if any of the hawkers had mangoes. Carey hurried downstairs and came back with the news that there were mangoes.
"How much are they?" asked the CEO.
"I didn’t ask," responded Carey.
"Would you mind asking?" asked the CEO. Carey hurried downstairs again and returned with the news that the mangoes are being sold for 40 cents.
The CEO then asked Carey to go to Austin’s office and return with him to his office. When Austin, the promoted employee, walked into the office, the CEO gave him the exact same assignment that he gave Carey, the incensed employee. Austin went downstairs and returned with the following information: "There are three hawkers who’re presently selling mangoes across from our building. The mangoes look delicious, and the prices range from 35 cents to 45 cents each. Having examined them, it is my suggestion that if you desire to purchase mangoes today, you purchase those that are being sold for 45 cents."
The moment he concluded his report of the assignment, the CEO turned to Carey and simply said, "That why Austin got promoted."
Both Austin and Carey were given the exact same assignment, but their approach to executing the assignment was vastly different. Whereas Carey was simply about meeting the basics, Austin was not. That task, and each task in life, is more than the basics. Each and everyone of us can do the basics, but life and faith have never been about just the basics. Life and faith require us to do more than the barest minimum, and the ability to do more than what is required of us, in fact, sets us apart from others.
Remember the story of Abraham’s offering of Isaac. Remember the parable of the Good Samaritan. Remember the parable of the Talents. Remember the story about the friends who took the crippled friend on the mat and took him to Jesus. Remember the story about one of the ten lepers who returned to give thanks for his healing. Remember your own unique story, when you chanced upon the idea that the bare minimum would not cut it, and for that reason you resolved to do more than the bare minimum.
Inherent in all these stories is the idea that as good as the bare minimum may be, it is not enough and has never been enough. It is, therefore, incumbent upon us to challenge ourselves to do more than the minimum if we desire to soar. It is always the 'more' that sets us apart from those who desire to do the bare minimum.
Each one of us can do the minimum. Each can go downstairs to the street hawkers and ask as many times if they have mangoes, how much they cost, and which one is of better quality. In much the same way, each of us can ask more than it is required of him or her, and offer more than is required of him or her.
There is another interesting story that I plan to share with you in the near future, but for now, I would like to draw your attention to our partnership with Lake Elkhorn Middle School. As a morale booster to the teachers and staff of the school, Christ Church is preparing to donate custom polo shirts to them. The cost was underwritten by a couple, and for that we are grateful. Since school will be virtual, we are looking to provide the students with headphones and earbuds, and to relaunch our Weekend Food Pantry when school reopens. We can make this happen - turn a life around, and provide hope for these children and their families, if we decide to do more than the bare minimum.
Faith does not tolerate complacency. Faith, like life, requires more than your share of the bare minimum. Battling COVID-19, where one thousand Americans are presently dying each day, has taught me that it is not even enough to do just the bare minimum. To turn this 'ship' around, to turn our lives and those of others around, we have to do more than the bare minimum.
Ask if any of the hawkers have mangoes. Your approach will determine your sense of purpose.