As my husband and I sat in a local coffee shop, we began a conversation with a young business man. The emblem on his shirt causing us to wonder what his line of work was. Just one, simple, inquisitive question opened the door for a fascinating conversation in which we learned that he was a financial planner who loved Jesus and used his line of work to represent Christ to those in his sphere of influence. A friendly conversation took off from there as we sat on common spiritual ground.
His passion rose to the surface as he expressed that he had been coming to the realization that often what we desire comes to fruition as we connect and have community with others. As we minister to others, we not only meet their need; but somehow in the process of giving, our own desires are met as well.
Stepping into the conversation
This has been a season of giving for me as I seek to live presently and fully out of each opportunity that God brings my way. I am learning to tune-in and hear beyond what people are saying on the surface. This closer look brings me to a place of discerning what people’s deeper issues and often real needs are. Most often the root concerns are left hidden in what is unspoken.
I know that I can’t meet everyone’s needs; but I believe that showing a genuine gesture of kindness or stopping to listen can be a start in ministering to them in the broken places of their lives.
I often ask myself; “Am I so wrapped up in my own concerns that I don’t consciously look beyond myself to see the needs of others?” “Do I guard my personal time so closely that I become stingy, self-centered and protective of what I consider to be mine?”
The Apostle Paul wrote in the book of Philippians:
Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others.
Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.
Each of you should look not only to your own interests,
but also to the interests of others.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.
Starting the conversation
“I’m just not a good conversation starter!” I have often used this as my excuse to stay comfortable in my own-little-world; but the more I learn to embrace and live out of my own authenticity, the more I feel that I have something to offer others.
In living out of my uniqueness, I can enter a conversation out of who I am and not worry about trying to present myself in a certain light.
As I enter the life of someone else through a conversation or a kindness, I find that the blessing is two-fold. I am blessed in the giving and they are blessed in the receiving.
Everyone likes to be noticed and kindness goes a long way in viewing others through the eyes of Christ! Evoking a conversation on top of that is often a bright-spot in their day!
After expressing to a friend how timid I felt at starting conversations, he told me; “Just be inquisitive! What strikes you as interesting about the other person? Ask them about it.”
Creating conversation opportunities
Sometimes a meaningful conversation will start in areas that we often consider to be mundane.
- A genuine smile is a great conversation starter!
- Holding a door open and wishing someone a blessed day.
- Stopping to acknowledge someone’s pet.
- Drawing attention to something unique a person is wearing.
- Asking about a book they are reading.
- Finding a common ground of interests. (children, a hobby, education, health, a job, decorating, spiritual growth, food etc.)
Creating common interests
Not being a natural conversation starter, I often rely on areas of personal interest to get the conversation going. Lately for me, this has been essential oils, healthy eating, noticing that the other person has lived with chronic pain, or discovering what book the other person has just read.
Designing and creating unique handbags from leather is also a passion of mine. I have always liked to sew and re-create things from reclaimed fabrics. When I see someone with a leather journal, an interesting leather pouch, leather earrings or a unique leather coat; I am instantly drawn in and feel like I have something in common with them. This has often become a conversation starter for me.
- What are your interests, hobbies, life experiences or dreams? Look for ways to use them in starting a conversation with others.
Conversing Christ through our actions
“Not every acknowledgement will yield a fruitful conversation
But every genuine act of kindness will minister –
Even without a word being spoken.”
Linda Jane Dingeldein: Different by Design
Asking the hard questions
- What is one tangible step I can take today to reflect the love of Christ?
- How can I intentionally minister to someone who has a physical need?
- Am I willing to risk leaving my comfort zone to touch the life of someone who is suffering? How?
- Is there someone I feel compelled to walk along side of through a hard situation?
- Am I too wrapped up in my own troubles that I have become oblivious to the true needs of others? If so, how can this change?
So, whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.
As I think of living each day purposefully in God’s presence, I am much more conscious that I must set myself aside and intentionally consider others. Whether it be a verbal conversation, a listening ear, a simple act of kindness or journeying alongside of someone who is struggling; this is the way of Christ.
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”
Let’s take time to reflect
- How might we intentionally step into the journey of someone else’s life today?
- How might we make the effort to enter into a caring conversation with someone else this week?
- How might we choose to reflect the love of Christ with a simple act of kindness?
It is my prayer today; that each intentional act of mercy extended towards others, will bring them one step closer to understanding the love of Christ.
May the Truth of God’s Word break through a life-time of captivity and offer liberation to free hearts that are bound in sin and deception.
May we risk, entering a place where suffering dwells; giving of ourselves for the long-haul. Not a momentary fix; but an offering up, a pouring out of ourselves to enter a place of deep grieving. A place where we leave self behind and live fully-present as we think of the needs of others.
The question is…
How will we make the effort to offer up our unique selves to be the hands and feet of Jesus today?
God, right now I have a lot of my own needs to work through; but I long to touch others with the love of Christ. Help me to see beyond the place where I am at and to lift my eyes to the hurts, problems and pain of others. Show me what I can do to make a difference in someone else’s life today.
I know, that it is in giving to others that I will receive a fresh joy to walk my own personal journey. Open my eyes to see the needs of others around me. Give me the courage to risk and step towards them with compassion and love. May I minister to them in a way that encourages them by becoming the hands and feet of Christ today. Amen
(Philippians 4:19; Hebrews 3:13; 1 Peter 5:7; 11 Corinthians 12:9)
LINDA JANE DINGELDEIN: DIFFERENT BY DESIGN
LINDA JANE PHOTOGRAPHY
Linda Jane Dingeldein acknowledges the beauty of God’s creation in the crisp splendor of autumn foliage.