Often I am asked, “Where does the name ‘Third Lens’ come from?” The answer is an ongoing, evolving story of where we, as individuals and a ministry, came from and where we are going.
The name “Third Lens” originally comes from the book Epicenter by Joel Rosenberg. In the book, he writes:
“While it is fashionable in our times to analyze world events merely by looking through the lenses of politics and economics, it is also a serious mistake, for it prevents one from being able to see in three dimensions. To truly understand the significance of global events and trends, one must analyze them through a third lens as well: the Lens of Scripture. Only then can the full picture become clearer.”
Epicenter and this passage spawned the vision for what Third Lens would become: an organization where the worlds of construction and design intersect with ministry. A ministry model where the principles of construction management, planning, engineering, and architecture would overlay and disrupt the current model of construction in the nonprofit world. A platform where industry professionals could volunteer on humanitarian projects and give of their professional gifting. An impact strategy that would protect the credibility of great ministries, empower the local economy and equip future generations with vocational training and education in construction.
The initial mission for Third Lens was two-fold: (1) engage people in and around the construction industry to volunteer on worthwhile projects; and (2) support great organizations as they had a need for built environments. Our leadership team also envisioned infusing Third Lens into the DNA of like-minded businesses. Today, the Third Lens Principle continues to become more than that.
I believe the intent of Rosenberg’s idea remains as true today as ever. We generally watch and read current events through the lenses of politics and economics as our baseline. And through those lenses, we form our sometimes polarizing opinions that continue to divide our society. One might say that we stand at the crossroads of unhealthy tension and lines in the sand.
What would our world look like if we infused the Lens of Scripture? Might our views, opinions and conversations be infused with love, compassion, empathy, and understanding? Could our common belief in a loving God bring us together where our politics divide us? Could we find answers to man’s calamities of clean water, education, healthcare, trafficking and orphan care by adding a third dimension to our vantage point?
In his book Winning with People, John Maxwell describes the Lens Principle as: “who we are determines how we see others.” The way people see one another is a reflection of themselves. You are the lens through which you view the world.
For example, one might look at the famine that has recently ravaged parts of Africa and ask, “God, If You love us so much, why would you allow such a terrible thing to happen?” One might take a stance on government intervention and our responsibility to send resources. We might spend countless hours debating the topic on social media. But is that short-sighted? Is that reflection of our worldview? Is that a deeper reflection of who we are?
“Who you are determines what you see, how you see others, how you view life, and what you do.”
I believe our holy and righteous God looks down on us in those moments and asks:
Why do you stand idly by watching this happen?
Why do you allow your brothers and sisters to suffer?
How are you going to be a part of the solution and not the debate?
Let that sink in for a moment…
The Third Lens Principle is overlaying Scripture on your life (your time, talent and treasure), seeing the world (and its problems) through the eyes of God, and being a part of His solution.
As an organization, Third Lens exists to build environments of healing with our partners. Our expertise lies in the construction and design process. In the grand scheme of global missions, that’s the lane God has called us to run in. By alleviating the burdens of the construction process, our partners can focus on providing solutions to hunger, illness, education, clean water, slavery, social injustice, abandonment and brokenness. Built environments facilitate and increase their impact.
Personally, I have applied the Third Lens Principle to what is now my calling and vocation. After 15 years in the private sector, I get the opportunity to wake up each morning and apply my God-given talents to have an eternal impact through ministry. I get the opportunity to work with amazing people across the globe. It’s hard, but so rewarding.
I challenge you to pray through how the Lens of Scripture applies to your life. Ask yourself these 3 questions:
- How can I use my talents to change the world?
- What type of ministry stirs my heart and keeps me up at night?
- Where can I plug in and invest my time, talent and treasure?
If this is something you have been wrestling with or want to learn how to navigate through, please feel to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.