This happened to me a few weeks ago. My family and I were on vacation and we were having dinner out at a great restaurant by the river in La Crosse, WI. Our server was a nice young man (33, which is totally young!) and was very accommodating to our noisy family!
DISCLAIMER: I like to get to know people. Fortunately for me (and maybe unfortunately for them) servers are a captive audience.
So, I was asking our server about himself. He told us that he had just moved back to La Crosse from the south because his dad was ill. He tried to keep it light, but I had to ask about his dad. So I did.
"How is your dad doing now?" I asked. He told us that his dad had passed away recently and talked about what a great man he was. Insert statement: "Oh man, now what do I say?"
What did I say, you might ask. "I'm so sorry to hear that" and tried to be compassionate; but we couldn't exactly invite him to sit down and talk about it, he had 10-15 other tables for crying out loud!
I wouldn't give myself a complete "fail" on being intentional with people, but I have a feeling Jesus would have handled things differently.
WHAT WOULD JESUS SAY?
In Matthew 5, Jesus sees a crowd of people. First of all, when was the last time you really saw a person? When I do a very theological word study by right-clicking on the word sees I get the following synonyms: to understand, to perceive, to get, realize, grasp, appreciate and comprehend.
Jesus sees these people and he gets them. He understands them. He perceives their need...and so he takes the disciples up on a hill to teach them about their greatest need and the greatest need of the people...Eternal Life (as stated in Matthew 5, the kingdom of heaven). He's preparing them to be intentional with the lives of those they meet.
Note, Jesus doesn't open with an ice breaker, he doesn't tell a joke or a self-deprecating story; he cuts to the chase and he gets to the heart. He tells the disciples about the blessings that follow various heart attitudes:
- when you realize you need a Savior, the kingdom of heaven is yours.
- when you understand your sin and the sin of others and it makes you sad, you'll be comforted
- when you get what it means to be humble, you will inherit the earth
- when you perceive this hole that can only be filled by God; when you hunger and thirst for righteousness, YOU WILL BE FILLED!
At the restaurant with this young man who was serving my family, I didn't have words to encourage his heart and I wasn't prepared to point him toward God. I have a few moments in my life that I continually look back on as missed opportunities to point others to Christ. I pray that God will keep this encounter fresh in my memory and help me to be bold and prepared to point the next young server to Christ.
Check out Matthew 5:13-16. These verses give me the courage to be intentional! Not because I think I have all the answers, but I know the One who does! I want to be salt and light; I want my words and my actions to be full of meaning that point others to Jesus Christ!
How about you? Doesn't it feel like we get stuck in cycles of talking about things that don't really matter most of the time? I'm not saying that's ALL bad, but when we have conversations that matter…it can be a game changer!
I love to dig in and learn about people; to ask challenging questions without being nosey (sometimes I fail at this). Whatever the amount of time with a person, I want to speak good into the lives of people around me…but more than that, I want to speak God into their lives.
This week, may you see people differently and may you move your seeing to action - so that others might hunger and thirst for more!