Yesterday, I sat by the window at Starbucks talking to a very fine college student. Out of my mouth came these words, "I love what I do!" That is very true--most of the time. Now of course I don't like everything about my work. There are times when I fight discouragement. And--there are times when I lose the battle with discouragement and it wins.
But, I there are parts of my work I like very much. I like having the time to read, pray, and think about things that matter. I like seeing a group of people become more like Jesus. I like seeing individuals who are beginning to listen to Jesus and respond in faith.
I once read something by John Killinger in which he suggested that ministers need to realize that people in churches are in so many different places in life. He suggested a little exercise in which we reflect on the various situations in which people live. I think this is useful for anyone. Think for a moment about your friends and other people in which you regularly encounter. Think about what it might be like to be in their world.
What would it be like to:
• Have just experienced divorce?
• Have a child in jail?
• Be on government assistance?
• Be a new parent?
• Have just learned you have cancer?
• Know you will have major surgery tomorrow?
• Be told by your wife, "I'm moving out. I've found someone else."
• Be told by your employer, "We won't be needing you anymore."
• Live alone for many years?
• Be fifteen years old?
• Be single?
• Want children and yet unable to have children?
• Face a move to a new community in a state where you've never been?
• Experience severe depression?
• To realize you are in serious trouble financially?
• Grieve over your mother's death?
• Feel old and useless?
• Care for aged parents while you try to be attentive to your children and grandchildren?
What thoughts, feelings, experiences, names, situations, places, etc. come to mind? What is the context of this person? There are times when I ask myself as I prepare to teach or preach, "How would a person in this situation hear this message?" Far too often, we see things only from our point of view.
I believe this is important for any Christian who is serious about being used by Jesus. My sense in listening to his conversations in Scripture is that he was always aware of who he was talking with. No, I can probably never totally identify with another. But--I can try. I can at least ask the question. I can at least consider what it might be like.