It’s Sunday morning again—showtime. I’m ready to serve.
I belong to three different ministries, so I have leadership meetings to attend, I have rooms to set up, and I have people to talk to. I begin rushing through crowds of church people with a mission in mind—I need to refill the coffee machine for the visitor’s table.
As I’m headed toward the direction of the coffee machine, a friend of mine stops me to chat. While I make dismissive small-talk, another person calls my name.
Who’s trying to get my attention now? I’ve got places to be! I’ve got things to do! Why am I being pulled in every direction?I notice a blonde-haired boy.
He has a friendly face and a brightly-colored shirt. He doesn’t seem familiar, but he does seem quite inviting. He hasn’t said a word to me, but he’s calling out to me. He wants me to talk to him; I can tell.But I can’t. I just can’t. Laced through this thick blanket of bodies are my friends and my ministry teammates. These are the people that I need to focus on. These are the people who need my attention right now!
I break my attention from the friendly-faced boy. My phone buzzes with several more notifications. Instagram. Facebook. Twitter. I check each comment, like, view and share.
As I peel my eyes from the screen, I’m frazzled. What exactly am I supposed to be accomplishing right now? I’m headed somewhere. I’ve got things to do. Coffee… right. Ministry.As I’m heading towards the coffee machine, I can’t help but notice the blonde-haired boy again. He’s looking for me. Well, he’s not exactly pursuing my attention, but he has a way with his body language. He’s friendly enough to smile, yet far-too indecisive to approach me.
He’s wide open.
Then suddenly, I sense it in my spirit—he’s sad. As I observe him more closely, my spirit groans with agony. I feel the darkness that’s made its home within him. He’s sad; very sad. He’s lonely. I see the crowd envelope him, nearly swallowing him up. He’s almost gone. He’s too weak to reach out his hand, yet he’s begging for me to grab it. What must I do? What must I say?I’m going to save his life. I’m going to say, “Hello.”
We often underestimate the power of our own influence.
Throughout my life, I’ve realized that I have the power to affect people. In fact, people typically expect for me to take ownership of their feelings in some regard.
They want me to lead in conversation so that they will feel assured in our relationship. They wait for me to approach them and they wait for me to extend an invite. They want to know that I care enough to make the first move.
Does this sound silly, or does this sound a little bit like you?
Whenever someone purposes themselves to approach you in conversation, how does that make you feel?
When I’m pursued in conversation, I feel valued. I feel accepted. I feel important. Take it a step further: if a person leads with a compliment, or proceeds to ask me about myself, I’m flattered. I’m bashful. I’m giddy. It feels incredibly satisfying to be valued by another person. It’s a social rush.
Would you be surprised to learn that you actually affect other people? Over time, I’ve recognized my own influence. Each person carries their own perceived entitlements and expectations of others, and most people’s expectations are high. When I don’t meet another person’s expectation of our interaction, then they will normally carry an offense, and they will almost always perceive me in a negative light. It’s happened many times. They’re hurt, so I’m blacklisted.
This reality isn’t just exclusive to me—it’s your reality, too. People are waiting for you to notice them. People are waiting for you to validate them. People are waiting for you to love them.One could easily argue that each person is responsible for their own feelings.
One could argue that, “it’s impossible to please everyone.” While these realities exist, our responsibility to love exists, too. We can’t be all things to all men, but we can love. Life is difficult. People are hurting, sick, broken and lost. People are enslaved to sin. They’re smothered by the cares of this world. They lack purpose, vision, and drive. People are oppressed by demons, bound by people, and stuck in the past. They are searching for someone—anyone—who will lighten the load. They’re searching for an answer, The Answer. Yes, the very Answer that is living within you.
I shared a story at the beginning of this blog about the blonde-haired boy. This was actually a dream of mine. When I woke up from the dream, I felt burdened for this boy. During the dream, I had a knowing that he was just one interaction away from escaping the grip of suicide. The weight of his angst rested upon me. I knew that I needed to intercede for those struggling with the spirit of suicide.Instead of focusing my prayer only on the person burdened with depression, I focused my prayers instead on community.
I asked God to send Christians to surround those burdened by loneliness and depression to support them, showing them the love of Christ during such a critical time in their lives.
Although my dream didn’t last long enough for me to know what happened next, I truly hope that if this were a real-life situation, I would have enough selfless compassion to approach the boy. All he really needed was someone to care about him, even for a moment.
I write this blog to illuminate the fact that you’re one of the laborers that I’ve prayed for. I’ve prayed for someone like you—someone who’s been loved back to life by Christ—to boldly approach another individual and make them feel cared for, even for a moment.
Don’t underestimate your power.
You influence someone every. single. day.
Your interaction with others, whether you’re entertaining your spouse, a stranger, or an angel, is remembered.Your Monday morning pessimism is toxic to your coworkers, regardless of whether or not you acknowledge it. You may think that your smile toward a stranger at the grocery store is nothing more than a friendly formality, but that stranger may reflect that same smile back home to their spouse to make peace in their home.
Every single interaction that you make reflects an image. People are desperately searching for the image of hope, light and love.
They want to see that, although the world is depraved and twisted, there remains a remnant of people who are genuine and pure. In the midst of broken homes, broken systems and broken hearts, people crave the image of restoration.You’re the image that people are desperately searching for.
That blonde-haired boy wasn’t just looking for me—he was looking for you. You bear the image of Christ.
Christ’s goodness is in such stark contrast to this world that, as an image-bearer, you really stand out. Whether you ask for the responsibility or not, people will look to you. They have expectations of you.
Just like the blonde-haired boy, there are millions of others out there who simply need a touch of hope from someone like you. You have the power to change the trajectory of another’s life simply by extending your attention beyond yourself.Just like in my dream, life will call your name.
Your responsibilities will distract you. Your friends will distract you. Your phone will distract you. Pay attention! Someone is waiting for you to be fully-present. They may not require anything extraordinary of you; love requires but the smallest touch. You may not need to evangelize, perform a miracle, or share your testimony.
You may just need tune out the distractors.
You may just need to peel your eyes off of your phone.
You may just need to be present.
You may just need to say, “Hello.”