I've been on a sermon kick again - listening to the words of those wiser or, at least, braver than I.
It's a good thing for me to do - to fill my head with uplifting, encouraging words, words that lead me to think and grow and listen more carefully.
I love being challenged.
I love hearing voices of those I know. Sometimes it makes me laugh to hear their public self knowing what I know about their private self.
And as I walked and listened this past week I was reminded.
I was reminded that my call is to love people - to walk alongside, to build up, to get to know, to invite along, to simply love.
So often our agenda is one of.....let me help, let me change, let me make better, I want to MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
Now none of those are bad things and Lord knows we all could use a little help, a little change and some betterment.
But if that is your goal..........what does that say about the person you are suppose to be loving?
To me it says that I am a project. I am something to be worked on - someone is going to step back, stare me down, make some judgements and then make improvements.
Then I will be all good and new and BETTER.
THEN I can join or be part of or be different.
It says to me that I am something to be fixed.
It says that I am something that can be finished. Done. Crossed off.
OR.................You can love.
You can walk alongside, you can listen, you can ask questions, have dinner, play with their kids, call, text, e-mail, see the person they are, the person they want to be.................and do so without expectation.
You mean I can do all that stuff and pour into and invest and love and lay down my life and time and energy and well............it may make a difference..........or it may not?
Yep. Yep, it does.
But here's the thing......people aren't projects and they don't have an end date, a completion rate or a set of tasks that need to be complete and then you are DONE.
You are never done with people.
And people are messy and complicated and will need to be pulled up, lifted up, encouraged and love in a myriad of ways..........every. single. day.
And you know what?
Chances are you aren't going to be offered a little mini-me to pour into.........you are going to be offered someone to love that needs love.
You don't get to choose.
It's the neighbor who doesn't like you.
It's the super annoying mom with the even more annoying kid.
It's the person the next office, room, cubicle over that grates on your every last nerve.
It's the person who thinks THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF YOU IN EVERY WAY.
It's the family who seems to be the antithesis of who you want your family to be.
And listen........I am saying this to me. I know that I am just as guilty as anyone else of wanting to choose who I love and who I pour into and who I have into my house.
I want to choose.
You are called to love.
You are not called to easy.
You are not called to simple.
You are not called to a life lived alone.
You are called to a life of discipleship.
And guess what else?
It's a lot easier to live a life of projects and not people.
It's a lot easier to fill our time with lists and projects and tasks and say LOOK AT ME. I AM SO AWESOME BECAUSE I CAN COMPLETE ALL THIS STUFF. I love a room that's been cleaned, a meal that's been cooked, a curriculum written, a village planned, a good deed done, an event planned. I love those things because they are done and over and I can point to a job well done.
The reality, though, is that all those things are just things and they are good things and I love that I get to do them and they lead me to relationships and people but they are not the sum total of what I believe my ministry is.........my ministry is people.
My ministry is being carried out in parks and houses of other people and over the phone and through e-mails and coffee and prayer and time spent being present even when no one else is looking and it doesn't fit on an agenda.
And it's something that I need to be reminded of every day.
My tendency is towards tasks.
My tendency is towards completion.
My tendency is towards easy.
My tendency is towards simple.
My tendency is towards projects.
But my calling?
My calling to to love.
My calling is to the complexity of relationships.
My calling is to people.