I love to love people. Full disclosure, I don’t necessarily like all people (there is no command in the bible for that) but I will love any and everyone that I can. The bible is pretty clear on our duty to love.
I teach that everyone has two ministries. The first is what you do. Some feed or clothe the homeless, some build shelters, some tutor, some are involved with various ministries that meet the needs of different groups of people. The second ministry that you have is who you are. If you have decided to follow Jesus Christ and, in fact, have given your life to Him, you have switched places with Him. He died for you so you live for Him. You are a walking, talking, living representation of Jesus Christ. Daunting task for sure. It’s so daunting that most Christians ignore it. Some excuse it away saying, “Well, I could never be like Him so…” Sadly, some think that they are doing a great job by pointing out the sin in others and condemning as many people as they can.
Billy Graham once said, and if he didn’t I’ll take credit for it, “God the Father judges, Jesus saves, the Holy Spirit convicts. It is my job to love.” That’s the premise upon which I (try to) live my life. That is why I spend 5 minutes each Sunday at church on a segment called, “Learn to Love.” I give tips and teachings on how we can love others. “They’ll know we are Christians by our love” we sang in church growing up. However, where are we learning how to love? Really, who teaches it? I didn’t see much of it through all of the churches I attended before becoming a Pastor. So, I teach it. Much of what I teach is covered in this blog.
This month I have been giving tips on how to love people through this Christmas season. Here are the 4 things I have gone over.
- Send A, one, singular, individual Christmas card. Instead of it being the mass mailing that involves hundreds of dollars, a family fight over the picture taking, anxiety over paring down the list, getting the wrong cards from Snapfish, signing, stuffing, and drama for something people will look at for the time it takes to see if there’s a check in it why not do one VERY INTENTIONAL card? Think (and even pray) about one person that you know that needs to be loved. The further they are from you relationally will get you a bigger bang for your love buck (that was awkward). If you send it to your mom…fine. However, if you send it to the parent of your sister-in-law or to the boss of your friend…it will have a greater impact. Now, on that card you let them know how much you appreciate them. You tell them all about them and what sets them apart. If they are a horrible person to deal with this can be a problem. However, most people have enough redeeming qualities that this is possible. Take a few minutes, fill the card, be honest and direct. It will blow them away and they will feel loved.
- Reminisce. If you still have your parents with you talk to them about what you appreciated in regards to the Christmas they provided for your growing up. Most parents lament what they didn’t or couldn’t do. By remembering the presents, meals, parties, decorations, and effort, you will brighten their day. If your parents are gone share the memories that you have with whoever is left. Some memories might not be great but you can then share in the sadness and provide comfort. Even if you don’t have any memories to share with someone, ask them to share theirs with you. Allow them to reminisce. Rejoice with them, mourn with them, join them in their emotion.
- In a similar vein to the end of #2, ask someone how their Christmas prep is going. Don’t do it just to tell them that you bought and wrapped all of your gifts in September or that you haven’t even bought one thing. Do it to allow them to talk to you. Do it so they feel less alone. Celebrate what they have done and encourage them for what they have left to do. Groan when they tell you about the person that never appreciates their gift. Sigh heavily when they tell you about how “so and so” is going to be at Christmas dinner and it is a battle just to get through the night. Whatever their situation is, join them in their emotion.
- Randomly gift/tip. I really don’t know how many people take care of their garbage man, mailman, stylist, etc. anymore. I do know that I could probably throw out a freezer with a television, microwave, and dead body inside of it and they’d take it as I give them some $$ each year. Beyond that though, what about the checkout person at your grocery store? Why not toss them a $5? Your bill comes to $20 at Applebee’s? Give them a $20 tip. Yes, make sure that they see you do it and tell them, “Hey, you work hard. Merry Christmas.” You don’t have a lot of money? I get it. Then make sure that the people who serve you in any way know how much you appreciate it (see #1 above). Take a few moments and jot down a note or two telling the most random of people what you appreciate about them.
Will this fix the world? No. Will you be thanked and truly appreciated for your efforts? Probably not. Will it make a difference in some fashion? I guarantee it. Could it blow up in your face and totally backfire? It could. But if it does, you will have the ultimate satisfaction of doing something for someone who didn’t deserve it and chose not to receive it. That sounds a lot like the Christmas story after all doesn’t it?