I recently set off on a new adventure; after over 10 years of youth ministry, and 9 years working as a youth pastor, I have stepped out and taken leadership of a new ministry that is looking to reach out and minister to young adults in and around Fairmont, MN. It’s a big step of faith, but my wife Charmaine and I firmly believe it is the path that God would have us walk down.
In the first couple of months working to start this ministry, one of thing that has stuck out to me is the significance of relationships. This is not a new thing for me: I have pounded the drum for focusing on building strong, healthy relationships for years. But I’ve been reminded of the importance of relationships once again.
Relationships can be hard.
It’s easy to go to church, bump in to Bob and Jane Whatstheirface in the hallway, and give the same “Hey how are ya how ‘bout that weather see ya later” talk that you give each other every week, but that isn’t really the kind of significant relationship that I’m talking about. The church exists to glorify God and to build up His people, and that interaction isn’t really building up His people. If we want to truly encourage one another, we have to get involved in each others lives. We have to intentionally go out of our way to show that we truly care about each other; find out what is going on in the other person’s life, and ACTUALLY CARE ABOUT WHAT THE PERSON SAYS. That means time, patience, a lessening of our own ego (it isn’t all about you), and a willingness to sacrifice for others. This isn’t easy, but it is good and it is what God has called us to do.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.
If we are simply doing our average chit chat when we bump into people, there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with that. The place we go wrong is when we do that and we think that we are loving someone like Jesus called us to love them. If we think we are loving our neighbor as ourselves when we say “Hi” in the hallway, we are fooling ourselves and we need a reality check. Jesus calls us to a sacrificial love that pushes us out of our routine and out of our comfort zone, a love that forces us to pursue the needs of others instead of our own wishes and desires. Without these kinds of intentional, sacrificial relationships we are fighting to live life in a way that God never intended for us to live.