“Mom, will you come and play Legos with me?” he asks, and within five minutes of assent, the second question inevitably comes.
“Can you find me a dark grey 1-dot square?” or some other very tiny, very specific piece essential for his imagined creation. I groan, he laughs, and then I get down to business. After nearly four years of Lego play, our roles are well-rehearsed: he is the architect, I am the piece finder.
And honestly, I’m good at my job. Maybe because it’s always me who’s piled the pieces back into their bins and vaguely remember seeing that medium-sized plastic flame. More likely, it’s because I just keep looking. It’s rare that I don’t find the piece he needs to complete his newest masterpiece.
Such job might sound tedious if you haven’t done it before. It’s not. When I find the piece he wants, I get to see it go together with the others into a Nether King Castle or a Crystal Cave of Weapons. His satisfaction at making real the thing his imagination conjured is palpable. As a parent, it’s the biggest part of my job to supply him with the pieces he needs to build the things he dreams.
I’m not just the piece-finder on Ollie’s Lego mat, either. At church, people come to me with problems, unrealized dreams, and unfulfilled desires, and together we hunt for the missing piece. Sometimes it’s plugging in to a ministry or resource that already exists. Sometimes it’s seeing the assembled parts of one’s life through another’s perspective and realizing they do fit together after all.
StrengthsFinder, the Gallup tool that assesses one’s leadership talents, calls this piece-finding skill Connectedness. It’s the ability to see how things relate to each other, what pieces are missing or how the puzzle might come together in a new way. And surprise, surprise, it tops the list on my StrengthsFinder assessment.
This is why I’m so excited for the new non-profit that the churches in Mankato are developing around housing, food and employment insecurity. It’s called (and this can’t be a coincidence) Connections Ministry. Our desire is to be the piece-finding team for those who struggle to find work, housing, food, and other basic needs. There are so many resources in Mankato, so many great organizations working on this problem already, each doing a wonderful job on their small piece. It’s only the fitting together of all these separate entities that is missing.
We as the people of God are uniquely positioned to help our neighbors in need put the pieces together, because we are not restricted by federal, state and county regulations. We are not bound by constraints of an 8-5 workday or a too-small-for-the-caseload department. And we already have relationships with most of the organizations in need of connection, either because our members are employed there, or because we support them with volunteer and financial resources. Most importantly, we are moved by the compassion of Christ to walk alongside our fellow Mankatoans offering dignity, love, and support both spiritual and material to those who fall through the cracks.
I’m increasingly convinced that piece-finding is not just one of my mom jobs. It’s a vocation. It’s a calling from God’s own mouth to help supply those who struggle most with the pieces they need to build the life they dream.