“If you hear the dogs, keep going. If you see the torches in the woods, keep going. If there’s shouting after you, keep going. Don’t ever stop. Keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.” -Harriet Tubman
I was talking with a friend after returning from a month long trip overseas last year and he asked me a simple question: “So what? What’s changed?” I thought for a minute before responding: “For perhaps the first time in my life, the consequences of unbelief have a face. That changes things.” When that reality sinks into your heart it will change the way you do things. There’s no way around it. It gives you a reason to keep going, a “why” to work for that is much greater than yourself.
Harriet Tubman had a significant “why” to work for. A “why” that she not only believed in but one that had a face: freedom. Freedom not just for herself but for others as well. She helped 300 slaves escape to freedom in 19 trips and never lost a single passenger in all of her journeys on the “Underground Railroad.”
As a slave who risked her life to grab hold of freedom for herself, Tubman immediately set out to help others taste the same freedom. Freedom wasn’t just an ideal or a concept for her. No, freedom had a face. Slavery had a face—the faces of friends, family and strangers.
Tubman was also convinced that God had called her to her work. She once told an interviewer: “Now do you suppose he wanted me to do this just for a day or a week? No! The Lord who told me to take care of my people meant me to do it just so long as I live, and so I do what he told me to do.” For Tubman it was that simple: God had called her to her work to help people. And that was enough to make her keep going.
I think we can learn something from Tubman’s relentless, persistent fight against the greatest injustice of her day. A lesson that takes us back to the basics and challenges us to focus on why we do what we do.
We may not be running from dogs and people out to kill us but we have our own obstacles and struggles as we go about our work as communicators. Harriet Tubman fought a great social evil in her day and so do we. There’s the continued slavery of human trafficking, unnecessary hunger and disease, and the evil of hatred that burns deep in the human heart. Pick one. And with Tubman’s relentless drive, use your communication skills to spread the one story that can overcome it all.
When Sunday is coming and there are youth events that needs posters, copy that needs editing and a website that is out of date, it’s easy to forget why it’s worth the work. It’s easy to forget the faces. It’s easy to think it’s just a design. But if we’re going to remain effective in our work we can’t lose sight of our reason for doing any of it.
What is your “why”? Is it significant enough to make you keep going?