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Carl Thress | Wednesday, January 27, 2016

“I want to be last.” It’s a familiar refrain in our house. Whether it’s serving up supper, walking out to the car, picking out candy at the dollar store, or placing an order for one of Dad’s dessert runs, whatever the activity, our six-year-old wants to be last.

I joke that he takes Matthew 20:16 a little too literally, but the truth is, he isn’t even familiar with that verse or its message of the first being last and the last being first. He just likes being last.

And that’s okay.

Being last has its advantages.

1. You never have to feel rushed because there’s no one waiting behind you.

2. You have the benefit of learning from those who came before you and seeing the choices they made.

3. You usually get to enjoy whatever activity you’re doing after everyone else has finished. (This is particularly true for desserts and snacks.)

4. And intentionally or not, you garner goodwill by allowing others to go before you.

How much of this goes into the thought process of your average six-year-old is debatable. But it certainly is a perspective not too commonly seen in our first-come, first-served, winner-take-all world.

For many of us, it’s easier to fall into a me-first mentality than it is to concern ourselves with our fellow man.

It is for me, anyway.

Far too often, I find myself worrying so much about my own struggles, I fail to recognize the opportunities for genuine connection staring me in the face. I focus so intently on my own race, I end up pushing right past the very people who could be helping me, as well as those who might benefit from my help, guidance, and encouragement as they deal with their own challenges.

That’s something my six-year-old doesn’t have to worry about. From his vantage point, happily waiting at the back of the line, he can see opportunities as they arise, assess his choices, and step in whenever he needs to to help a fellow straggler keep going.

In my mind, that beats a spot at front of the line any day.

Stepping down from my soapbox and depositing two pennies in the jar...

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