Friday, November 27, 2015

Reach Out & Touch Someone!

Whether you are young or old, there are things you know that others would love to learn.   Titus 2:5 tells the older women to teach the younger ones.    I have also discovered that chronological age does not matter.   There are many young men and women I have learned plenty from.

Many people don’t feel they are mature enough, have it all together or are just plain shy and don’t reach out to others.  Each of us has different personalities, and we have to learn how to reach out in a way that makes us feel comfortable. 

How can we do that?   For the extrovert, that is easy.  They love to talk to everyone and don’t hesitate to make a plan to get together. 

For those of us who are a little more introverted, it can take a little work.   Starting small helps. 

Our church has a coffee shop and people hang out in between services.  It is a good place to get to know new people.  I often see some sitting alone with their face glued to their cell phones.  I don’t think it’s because they don’t want to talk to people, they just don’t know how.

If you are shy yourself, it may take a little courage to reach out, but I have found if you take the time to ask a few basic questions, people will be drawn in and feel more connected.

Here are some questions I usually ask people at church that I don’t know:

·               How long have you been coming here?
·               How did you find the church?
·               Did you grow up around here?
·               Do you go to school (if they are young)?
·               If they are married, how long?
·               Do you have kids?  How many?  Tell me about your kids.
·               Do you work outside the home? 
·               What do you like to do when you are not working?

The list can go on and on.  As they talk, you will think of other things to ask and share.  You may find them asking you questions as well.

A few weeks ago, I sat next to someone at church and discovered our kids were doing mission work in the same country.  I had seen her at church often but did not know anything about her.  Now we have something that really connects us.  I’m so glad I took the time to get to know her.   

You will not connect with every person you meet, but there will be some that you are drawn to and feel a desire to get together with again.

Brian was one of those people for us.  Years ago, we went to a church in NC and had a row we liked to sit on.    Brian sat in Jerry’s “usual seat.”    Instead of going somewhere else, we sat beside Brian, a college student.   It was then that God showed Jerry He had big plans for Brian, and we should invite him to come over to get to know him better.  

What started out as one dinner became a regular thing.  When Brian was in town from school, we made sure he was at our table.  We didn’t do any type of formal training with Brian, we just loved him, listened to him and encouraged him. 

A few months ago, Brian wrote a letter to Jerry, and I want to share a portion of it with you: 

“I’m glad I stole you seat at RCC all those years ago so we could meet.  You helped me work out things in my life with my messed up relationships and were like a father to me (a young father, of course).  Today, I emulate for other young people what you did for me.  My wife and I like to invite young believers over to our house to mentor them ‘just like the Grays’ did for me.   I remember how at home I felt in your home and I want others to have that same feeling.  Like you, I ask them what God is doing in their lives, what their career choices will be, if there’s a significant other in their lives; and I even give them a DISC personality profile.  So you have multiplied yourself!  I pray that as I disciple others as you discipled me, that my ‘disciples’ will also emulate what I’m doing  for them when they have a family of their own.  I can truly say God used you in an amazing way to help mold me into the man I am today.  I remember the prayers you had for me when I’d leave your home.  I remember you would usually end the prayer by asking God to use me ‘in a might way.’  I now pray this same prayer for the young people I disciple.  And, I can confidently say that God has already used you ‘in a mighty way’ and I pray that he will continue to do so.”

By reaching out to those people you connect with, you never know the impact you will have on them.  For Brian, the time we spent was fairly short because he went to school out of town, and we only saw him on breaks.  The impact was long lasting, though. 

Let me encourage you today to begin reaching out to those God brings along your path.  Show them a little love and encouragement.  It could change your life and theirs forever.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Show Hospitality

1 Peter 4:9
Show hospitality to one another without complaining.

Our culture is rapidly changing.  Things are just not the same as when I grew up.  When I was a kid, most moms stayed at home, and I didn’t know of anyone who was divorced.   We ate our meals together, without television or cell phones.   

Our home was one with an open door.  People were in and out of our lives.  I loved having company over.    My mom could have probably outdone Martha Stewart, I will admit, and I wanted to be just like her.

Well, I didn’t develop all of her skills.  My house has rarely been clean in every room at one time.  It’s hard for me to keep the laundry done, and I certainly didn’t get her sewing gene.  However, I did pick up a few things about hospitality.

My mom’s advice would be, “Whoever drops by just love them, listen to them and pray for them when needed.” 

Mom used to have a round platter with sections in it.  When these impromptu guests arrived, out came the platter with whatever she could find in the pantry and frig.  It might be crackers with peanut butter, cheese, pickles and store bought cookies, but arranged on that platter, it became a feast to guests. 

What is served and how things look isn’t as important as loving guests.   Recently a couple invited us to their home, and they were in the midst of major renovation.  The fact they didn’t wait until everything was complete to have us over caused us to see they had a heart of hospitality.   We all had an awesome time together, and they didn’t apologize for the unfinished projects.   

There’s a big difference in hospitality and entertaining.  Hospitality is all about the person visiting.  Entertaining is more about impressing guests.

I find in this day and time particularly, there are many young men and women as well as couples who have never had family life modeled to them.  They may have some false perception of what life will be like when they choose a mate.

When our kids were young, there was a young man we used to have over regularly.  I will never forget the night he told us there had to demons in our house because the kids were not getting along.  It was a little chaotic.  We just laughed and told him we couldn’t wait for him to get married and have kids.  Years later he called us to apologize.     

It doesn’t require the perfect Christian life to invite others to come along side you.  We all have growth areas.  There have been times I have discussed my shortcomings with a friend and told her I needed to change.  

It doesn’t matter how old you are or whether you are single or married, you are needed to pour your life into others.  There are so many people who would jump at the opportunity to be noticed, listened to, and encouraged. 

With the holidays approaching, let me challenge you to reach out to others in your own way.  In a future post, I will give some practical ideas, but until then, please feel free to comment and share ways you have found to welcome others into your own heart and life.