Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Do you really KNOW them?

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Lately I have been reflecting on my relationships. You know…the multiple crazy friends, my sweet children, my husband, my favorite store clerks, and the list continues. I have watched more so recently others shocked at decisions or choices certain friends of theirs were facing. And, I somewhat sat back and scratched my head at why they were so shocked. If they had really had a developing wonderful relationship as a friend/parent/pastor etc, why had they not seen red flags or struggles in which that individual was facing?

As I went to work the other night the Lord brought to mind someone whom I have always been able to say is a true, godly friend…and one who genuinely KNOWS me. She knows what makes me tick, what makes me sad, what can light a fire under me and even more. I immediately thanked the Lord for my mom and the true impact of Christ’s compassion she has bestowed upon me for many years. Yes, I am her daughter, but it takes a consistent effort to continue to Know someone—daughter or friend…miles apart or thousands. And in my case, it’s almost a thousand.

So, where have we gone wrong? Well, I will just speak for myself because I don’t want any cranky,  hateful readers! I have failed to effectively communicate! Instead of asking heart felt questions to truly grow my relationships I have fluffed my conversations with good things and avoided the questions that could gain absolute heart filled honesty and very often hurt within a needy soul. This alone has made me realize I am utterly SELFISH. Its so much easier to discuss the current trends, best yard sale deals, and what we are making for dinner than to probe the soul of a dear friend and really get to KNOW them. I have failed all too often and am begging my Jesus to help me take a step back and really seek to KNOW those He brings across my path.

Just last week I ran into my favorite Aldi worker. He knows every one of my children’s names and He asks wonderful questions that I love to answer. It’s nothing too personal, because he still is somewhat of a “stranger,” but over the 8 years we have lived here he has faithfully and happily served our family when we go through his checkout line. We have invited him to many things at church and carried on many conversations over the years about our relationships with Christ and more. He has a sweet little girl Maddie’s age named Alise and it has been fun to get to know his little family just because God has placed them in my path. This may seem silly, but it’s people like this that I will miss  when we move. Seems silly, huh? Really? An Aldi worker?

When someone takes time out of their busy schedule to more than just say hi--- it makes an incredible difference.

So, Sunday school teacher—do you genuinely KNOW your students? Do you just greet them on Sunday morning, teach them and then pat them on the head and send them out the door into a great big world ready to capture them at any moment? Or do you take time for them? Do you ask them specific questions regarding their walk with Jesus, their relationships at home, things they struggle with and more? Do they know that you LOVE them and that is evidenced by just how much you KNOW them?

Parent—what about you? Do you genuinely KNOW your children? Do you look at life as a parent as a chore, as hard work, crazy schedules and more? Are you shocked when your children disappoint, rebel, run, and more? Or have you taken time to really get to Know what is truly inside their hearts? Do you lovingly ask questions that will bring struggles they face to the surface in order for you to help them? Do you care enough to KNOW them that they come to you with those struggles or do they run to someone else?

Pastor/pastor’s wife—do you genuinely KNOW your flock that God has called you to minister to? Do you preach to them and pray for them each week, but fail to really in a personal way get to KNOW them? Do you know which marriages are upon the brink of disaster, teens who are full of inward rebellion, the wives who long for a leader in their home, the hurting, and more? What actions have you put in place for you to more effectively KNOW your flock?

Youth pastor/laymen—do you genuinely KNOW your teens? Do you know which ones are struggling in school? Do you have any that seem good on the outside but are in a tug of war in their hearts? Do you know which ones need an extra ounce of encouragement each week because they aren’t getting it at home? Get to know them, sweet friends---because they are in a very tough and vulnerable stage of life right now! It would be so much better for godly adults to purpose in their hearts to KNOW these kids than the awful influences of this world creeping in without our standing there to encourage them away from it!

Friend—do you genuinely KNOW your friends/acquaintances? Do you go through activities and situations failing to really grow your relationships by getting to KNOW them better?

Wife/husband---do you KNOW your spouse? I mean really KNOW them! Are you aware of their specific needs, struggles, frustrations and more. Are you seeking to grow in this area and implementing things in order to better KNOW them on a daily basis?

The Lord commands us to walk with Him, He often pleaded with Israel to come back to Him. He pleads with us to meet Him early and develop a strong, close relationship with Him---getting to KNOW Him better daily. Why then should we shirk getting to KNOW others He directs in our path?

In EVERY “occupation” there is one thing in common----PEOPLE! We all are ministering to people in some way shape or form. Whether it be at a gas station, in a church, around a cup of coffee or more. We have each been given certain individuals whom the Lord expects us to encourage and uplift when crossing our paths. Will you put the phone down, unplug from facebook and blogs (ironic, huh?), turn the tv off, and just stop going through the motions of relationships and really seek to KNOW the ones that God has currently given you. It’s easy to get distracted by our busy lives and our problems, but there is a hurting soul sitting across the dinner table from you, there is a church member on the brink of divorce, there is a sweet child contemplating suicide, and a friend who has some incredible financial needs.

Do you KNOW those who are in your daily path? And, if not, are you consistently working at KNOWING them better? If not, you are throwing out some pretty tremendous blessings and are making it harder for that friendship to thrive even more!

I know some are wanting to spill with something I have not mentioned yet---the responsibility of those to talk to us, open up, share their burdens, etc. YES, this is true—we all must let down our guard, crucify our pride and share burdens with those who love us in order to be encouraged and prayed for. However; I believe we have all too often used this as an excuse for really not trying to KNOW others better. We say, “Well, they have built a wall, and I cannot get through, so what’s the use in trying?” I am guilty of this too, thus this lengthy post. I have come to realize that no matter the walls I can still do so much in truly KNOWING those I am in contact with. I am so thankful that Jesus hasn’t given up on me when I was stubborn and slipped away. He lovingly cared for me every second and continues to draw me closer despite my sinful flesh.

Praying that my sweet readers will take time to KNOW those you minister to today!