When do you think about taking time out of your busy schedule to invest in another person’s life? Are you one of those super organized people who has it on your calendar each week or month? Maybe it’s when something is said at church or you read something that compels you to do something.
I find that I need a reminder. It’s not natural for me to think of others. Well, I will if it involves me in some direct way. Either the person is already close to me, like a family member or friend, or I derive some benefit from it—it makes me feel better.
Not a very pretty picture of myself, but I know that is who I am.
But when I press into God and spend time with Him, He changes me. He takes my eyes off myself. He gives me a heart of flesh instead a heart of stone. I care about the vulnerable, the hurting, the lonely…I care because that is who He is.
Still I can struggle with living this kind of life—a missional life. My life is too crammed pack with places to be and commitments to fulfill. When I am consumed with my career, parenting, paying bills, taking care of things around the house, my plans…I don’t even notice the people who God notices.
So I end up trying a couple of things:
- I add it to my schedule. One day a week I will volunteer at a food pantry. Once a month I will help out with an elderly person. Once a quarter I will spend an afternoon with the kids at the children shelter. Once a year or so I will go on a short-term mission trip.
Nothing wrong with this approach. I certainly have done this. But if it’s not on my calendar, it usually doesn’t happen.
- I write a check. Give to missionaries who devote their life to this “kind of work”. Support an orphan in another country, and put their picture on my fridge. Write a check to the benevolence fund at church.
I have written a check for all those too. Please hear me! It is a good thing to help meet needs with our financial resources.
What is a simple way to live a missional life?
This quote convicts me,
If I am honest with myself, even by scheduling time to invest in others, and by supporting these causes financially, When I do spend time with them, I quickly return to my life and soon forget about them until my calendar reminds me that it’s time to think about them again.
Could that be because I haven’t taken the time to know even their names?
But what happens when I get to know a foster child? And not just his name, but also the names of his biological family?
What happens when I spend an afternoon sitting on the front porch of a widow learning her story?
What happens when I take the homeless man to lunch and simply listen?
What happens when I spend a weekend helping a refugee family set up a home, or help a family clean up the damage caused by a flood or fire?
What changes when I spend one each week helping a child read, or eat lunch with another whose father is no longer around?
Like David Platt says, once I learn their names, their struggle, their story, every thing changes.
That one simple thing will compel you to live a missional life.
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