A Heart for People1
Have you ever had one of those moments when someone said something to you that would forever change your view of the world and how you interacted with it? I have.
When I first started serving in a church-related project, I became very passionate about the ideals associated with the program. I can remember throwing myself into the work involved, anxious to sink my teeth into a task that fanned within me a sense of purpose. Efficiency and accuracy characterized my efforts, yet something important was missing.
Thankfully in my fledgling leadership role, I was taken under the wing of a much wiser ministry leader. In conversation one day, she said these life-changing words that would forever impact the way I would interact with others.
“Remember, it’s the people, not the program.”
It was as if I had been smacked upside the head with a two-by-four. It’s the people, not the program. I loved what I was doing more than the people I was doing it for. I was task-driven, rather than relationship-driven.
Yet when we reflect more deeply on Jesus’ example, we are reminded that he was constantly reaching out to people – all different kinds of people, without any thoughts to his “comfort zone,” or his “gifting,” or his personal preferences. He knew the value of relationships, and he defined those relationships with care, value, and respect. In his relationships, he sought to meet physical needs before he addressed spiritual ones. He asked questions. He listened- not only with his ears but also with his heart. He served others and loved them without strings attached. Those are the footsteps in which we should follow as we reach out to others.
But often in the Christian community, we view our relationships, particularly with those who do not share our worldview, as a project.
Yet Jesus showed us that people aren’t projects.
We shouldn’t be building relationships because we want people to think more like us or behave more like us. First and foremost, we should work on building relationships because we simply want to show God’s love to the world that He loved so much that He sent His Son to die for them. We should seek to connect with people, serve people, love people regardless of whatever they do (or don’t do) in return.
After all, is it really love, if we are expecting something in return?