I wasn’t planning on being on the phone with him for over thirty minutes. In fact, all I really needed was a three word answer—“read and agreed”—letting me know I could use his story for an email I was sending out for work. But after a few minutes of talking, I realized this call was going to be much more than that. As he started sharing about his job, family, and finances, I realized I was going to be on the phone with him for awhile.
And it wasn’t that he needed much from me. In fact, most of what came of out my mouth was “mmhm,” “I see,” and a couple “wow, that has to be hard. I’m sorry to hear that.” Because all he really needed was someone to listen, because all he really needed was to feel like someone heard him and that someone cared.
I chose to be that someone. Not because I didn’t have anything better to do—I had a lot of work waiting for me. But because I wanted do be able to hopefully make his day a little bit better and his burden a little bit lighter by doing this little thing. And when I had given all I could to the conversation, I was able to direct him to someone who could pray with and help guide him through this difficult time in his life.
Sometimes it’s the littlest things we do that have the biggest impact on people. You never know if your small act of love, care, or thoughtfulness is the cherry on top of someone’s great day or the first drop in their cup that they truly needed in order to keep going.
In a hurting world, we could all use a little more love.
And the good news is, it doesn’t even have to take a ton of money, time, or resources. In fact, sometimes it’s the smallest considerations that make the biggest difference. Telling someone you like their outfit or buying your co-worker a candy bar while you’re at the store because you remember them telling you it’s their favorite and you can tell they’re having a bad day or taking a few extra minutes to listen to someone who clearly needs to get some things off their chest—these are the types of things that set you apart, that matter, that make a difference.
Philippians 2:3-4 tells us, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
Now this is a beautiful picture but, in reality, it’s not our natural instinct. We are survival minded, which means our natural tendency is to put ourselves first in order to ensure our own safety, security, and happiness. We as humans can be pretty self-centered sometimes, caring more about ourselves than those around us. But this hurts those around us. So how do we start to change this natural tendency into something more Christ-like?
It starts with you. It starts with me. It starts with each of us actively and intentionally choosing to go against the norm, against what society might push on us, and to follow God’s command with excellence. One of the easiest ways to do this is simply to think selfishly first—think about what you would want someone to do for you, and then turn that around and do it for someone else.
Love people like you want them to love you.
Love people like Jesus. Be the person someone can look at and say, “you’ve always been there for me,” and really mean it. Dive into empathy and start doing little, thoughtful things each day. It doesn’t have to be a big show. It doesn’t have to break the bank. Maybe it will take a few extra minutes or some confidence to say the compliment you were thinking, but whatever the case it will be worth it. For them, most definitely. But also for you. As you walk in the way of Jesus—in the love of Jesus—beautiful things can happen. Friendships can bloom, love can grow, and people’s hearts can be healed little by little if we let the love of Jesus shine through us.
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