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Non-Conformists: Changing the world one family at a time

Nearly five years after his death, Steve Jobs is largely still considered by many to be the greatest visionary and innovator of his generation. He escorted computers into homes. He popularized digital music through the proliferation of the iPod. He brought in a new generation of movies through his work with Pixar. And the iPhone completely changed the world as we know it.

Jobs it seems had an ability to see what many others could not. In 1997, he said, “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” He saw a radically different future for all of us; then he ushered us into it.

Admittedly, few, if any of us, are Steve Jobs. But each of us may have a little Steve Jobs in us. In his book “Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World,” Adam Grant notes that people who change the world have the ability to look past the default settings of certain parts of their lives. They look at things like job descriptions, processes and even things as small as the browsers on their computers as items that can be changed and improved.

Economist Michael Housman once researched why some customer service agents stayed in their jobs longer than others. He looked through line after line of data without finding the common denominator. Because he had the information, he compared the computer browser that each employee used against their tenure and success. Those who took the initiative to change their internet browser also took extra steps when talking to clients. As a result, their calls were longer, their sales better and their tenures longer. 

Two-thirds of the world will continue to use the default browser on their computer. It works the way it should. We then look at other systems in the world and see the default way things are done and convince ourselves it’s working – even when we know it isn’t.

“Justifying the default stem serves a soothing function,” Grant writes. “It’s an emotional painkiller: If the world is supposed to be this way, we don’t need to be dissatisfied with it. But acquiescence also robs us of the moral outrage to stand against injustice and the creative will to consider alternative ways that the world could work.”

Innately, we know the world should be better than this. Each of us is dissatisfied with how the world works. We look at stories in the media and realize that tales of poverty, prejudice, violence and suffering need to end.

As Christians, we are to live lives that are pleasing to God, honoring him and bringing him glory in all that we do. Galatians 2:20 tells us we are to “live by faith in the son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Leviticus 20 commands us to consecrate ourselves and be holy, keeping the decrees of the Lord.

That’s the kind of non-conformist living I see in our Buckner family each day. It’s one that focuses on God first, others second and ourselves last. It’s a lifestyle of service and humility: Foster families caring for a vulnerable child; churches donating items for single-parent families in Buckner Family Pathways programs; volunteers equipping and empowering vulnerable families through classes and ministry through Buckner Family Hope Centers; and Christians going on Buckner mission trips where they serve as the hands and feet of Christ. Each effort helps transform the life of a child or family.

In many ways, the children and families we serve are the ultimate examples of setting aside the default way of doing life to create and embrace something better. Many of them have experienced repeated struggle, hurt and pain. But through Buckner ministries, they are now flourishing. They are changing the worlds they live in.

Christ gives every Christian a picture of what non-conformist living looks like. We typically refer to it as the Sermon on the Mount. Again and again, Christ turns how we view the world upside down.

In the first few verses of Matthew 5, we see Christ flipping how we often think of the world on its head. Blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who thirst and hunger for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers and the persecuted.

He points us to heavenly rewards rather than earthly ones as he urges us to follow him.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” –Matthew 5:14-16

In the sermon, Christ repeatedly acknowledges people’s default assumptions about the world, how it works and how religious people should function within it. Six times he mentions “you have heard it said,” then reinterprets the Old Testament law to get at the heart of how fallen a people we truly are. He outlines how we are called to live, which is only possibly through the strength of Christ.

Ultimately, living the life of a non-conformist and changing the world grows out of a strong relationship with Christ and living out his teachings each day. As the Buckner family, we do that by caring for vulnerable children and families. We shine hope into the darkest places of life.

As a result, lives are changed. Families are transformed. We move the world.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” –Matthew 7:24-27

To find out how you can get involved with Buckner, go to www.buckner.org/volunteer


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