Monday, May 21, 2012

One, Not Everyone

I recently heard a message by Andy Stanley that absolutely set me free not only as a pastor's wife, but just a person with a compassionate heart. The message was about our willingness and ability to help carry other people's burdens around us.

I know everyone experiences this to some extent, but due to the nature of Andy's role as a pastor we are keenly aware of so many people's needs. Hurting marriages, strained relationships between parents/children, sickness, loss of jobs, depression, etc. When I find out about a need of someone in our church, everything in me wants to meet that need. To take a meal, to babysit their kids, to provide marriage counseling, to be a friend, to disciple them, to help them find a new job. But the reality is that I can't. Jesus never intended me to bear a burden that size. My shoulders aren't broad enough.

It is easy to become overwhelmed (to the point of paralysis) by all of the needs that we are aware of. Before the era of social media, we pretty much only knew about the needs of those in our immediate sphere of influence. But now with real time status updates, we are bombarded with all types of needs in people's personal lives as well as global crises. The awareness of all these needs can cause us to either run ourselves ragged trying to meet every need, be consumed with guilt that we can't meet every need, or even cause our hearts to grow cold and insensitive to all of the very real needs around us.

None of those are good options.

Here's what the Bible teaches...
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.                                                                                                                                  Galatians 6:9-10 
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.                                                                                                  Galatians 6:2
If you want to live a life that honors Jesus,
You can't shut it all out.
You can't take it all on.

So what is the solution? How do you know where to engage and when to hold back? Are you ready for this revolutionary principle that (I hope) will set you free as well?

Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.

You don't have to do for everyone what you do for one. "Fairness" is not a fruit of the Spirit. Don't worry so much about being fair. Concentrate on being engaged.

  • I can't take a meal to every family at South Bay who has a baby or sickness. But sometimes I can.
  • I can't meet for coffee with every woman who could use some direction spiritually. But I can meet with some.
  • I can't do playdates with every awesome mom who I'm confident could be a great friend if our lives allowed it. But that shouldn't stop me from investing deeply in a few friendships.
  • I can't give money to every worthy organization that's meeting needs that break my heart. But I'm committed to give as much as I can.
  • I can't solve the crisis of 147 million orphans in the world. But I can adopt one child and encourage everyone I know to consider doing the same.

We can't meet every need. But we can meet some.

When you see a need and you have the ability to act, do something. When you can't, don't shoulder the guilt. When others see all of us deeply engaged in a few peoples lives, they will follow our example and do for one what they wish they could do for everyone. That is how you change someone's world, and when we are all collectively living this way, that is how we will change the world.

Who is one person that you could do for today?


Mandy said...

This one set me free as well! So good!! :)

Erica said...

love this post. This is so hard as a pastor's wife. This week I decided not to bring a meal to someone that had just had a baby and I have felt so guilty. Need to let it go!

Anonymous said...

As a missionary, it is hard to see the physical, spiritual, and emotional needs of people ALL AROUND me, every day. I get probably 4 emails a day of people with family members dying all over the world and it breaks my heat. This principle is freeing because, like you all, I can not watch everyone's kids, cook meals for people, spend time talking with everyone, and still have time to share the gospel with everyone around me. BUT, I can for some of the 1 million in my city. Thanks. Bethany