Imagine you were given the opportunity to build a world-changing community. What ingredients would you select? What would be the component parts of a truly planet-transforming place?
Your list of world-changing requirements would soon begin to look a lot like Bend, Oregon. With its quality lifestyle, clean air and water, stunning natural beauty, room to work, places to play, space to grow, pervasive safety, and excellent schools that are easily accessible, Bend is a vibrant center of commerce. A place of wealth. A region populated by smart, resourceful, motivated, friendly, and good-hearted people who love their community.
God gives favor
If you live in Bend, you’re one of those good-hearted people. That’s because Bend is a place of favor. Our region is blessed, and those of us who are privileged to live here are favored people.
Most of us understand the term “favor” as being “preferential treatment given or granted out of goodwill,” rather than something we receive because we earned it or deserve it—thus, the phrase “unmerited favor.” The Greek word for favor is “charis,” which means grace. Charis refers to God freely extending himself, reaching out toward people because He is disposed to bless and be near them.
With a little poetic liberty, one could say God is “bending” toward Bend. It’s a gift, and we are the beneficiaries. That’s why the most common comment around Bend is, “We are so blessed to live here.” And it’s true.
God blesses communities
Some might be tempted to to ask, “Why would God show special favor to a place like Bend?” However, that’s not a useful question, since favor, by definition, is undeserved. A better question is, “How should we respond to the blessing of living in a place of such great favor?”
Unfortunately, some people respond to favor by becoming complacent and self-satisfied. They take the blessing for granted. Others feel guilty and are crippled, rather than empowered, by their sense of undeservedness. And then there are those who respond with greed, grasping to possess more. But the highest and best response to favor is twofold: gratitude and generosity.
Responding with gratitude
True gratitude is manifested when we enjoy and use the gifts we have been given. More pointedly stated, we do not truly exhibit gratitude unless we enjoy and use the gifts entrusted to us. Think about a valuable gift you’ve given. How gratified would you be if the gift went unused? Likewise, our first response to favor is not just appreciation. We must also actively enjoy the gift and put it to profitable use.
In the Bible, Jesus tells the story of a man who entrusted his employees with different sums of money while he traveled. When he returned, he expressed his pleasure and rewarded those who enjoyed, utilized, and multiplied that which he had given into their care. It’s legendary how displeased he was with the ungrateful employee who hoarded the money and did not even attempt to increase it.
In another story, Jesus tells us that much will be required of a person to whom much is given. Surely much has been given to those of us who live in Bend, and our most appropriate first response to that gift must be gratitude in its fullest form.
Responding with generosity
Our second response to favor is generosity. The practical result of a spirit of generosity is that we give to others out of what we have. However, there’s a higher level of generosity, and that is to develop a spirit of giving out of what we have access to.
Since the favor we have been granted comes from the God of the universe, the Creator of everything, we have been granted the mind-bending opportunity to express our generosity out of the access we have to a source of abundance immeasurably beyond anything we can ask or imagine. Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Out of that overflowing gift, we have the capacity to give massively and to influence and bring light and life to the world.
3 essentials for community prosperity
For gratitude and generosity to have their fullest expression, we must prosper. To prosper means to thrive, to flourish, and to succeed.
In the highest sense, prosperity means to experience such a great level of spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, and financial success that we can, and do, bless others abundantly. Massively. Everywhere.
Favored sons and daughters of God acknowledge His blessing on their lives, and they aspire to be world-changers who bless others as God is blessing them. So let’s look at three essentials for prosperity and the multiplication of our blessings.
1. A clear sense of purpose
The point of prosperity is not to accumulate and stockpile more stuff. The point of prosperity is to be a conduit of overflowing blessing and abundance. How and where are you specifically called to bless others spiritually, emotionally, physically, mentally, and financially? Are you clear on your calling? Are you willing to step into it, even though it’s bigger than anything you can ask for or imagine? When we align our individual purpose with that of God, we partner with Him and release world-changing resources and influence.
2. An entrepreneurial mindset
Regardless of whether you consider yourself a business owner, prosperity requires an entrepreneurial mindset.
The first characteristic of entrepreneurs is that they understand that everything is “invented.” Everything is “made up.” The Bible says that “in the beginning was the Word.” God spoke the universe into existence and we are created in His image, so we have both the source of inspiration and the capacity to speak a compelling future into existence. We have the capacity to innovate and create. Maximum prosperity comes out of the exponential growth available to those who innovate and who act on their inspiration.
Proper action is what turns a dreamer into an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur creates, builds, and prospers, whatever their circumstances and wherever they are placed.
3. Build a team
No one changes the world on their own. Even Jesus was part of a team, and that team existed to help Him achieve His purpose.
So join or assemble a world-changing team. Find some smart, talented people who share your ambition to make a difference. There is tremendous power in association…and we all get to choose who we associate with. Choose wisely. As you collaborate with others, you will inspire and be inspired. Your collective influence and impact will far surpass anything each of you can do alone.
God created our community for impact
We live in a most favored place. We are amazingly blessed. We have everything we need to prosper. Collectively, we have the capacity and the opportunity to fully express our gratitude and to generously impact and influence Central Oregon and beyond. Let’s go do it.
Michael Sipe is a Bend resident, entrepreneur, mergers and acquisitions advisor, and business consultant. He’s the Chairman of C12 Cascades, called to change the world through those God calls to positions of authority and influence in the marketplace.