In a world where life moves at breakneck speed, it’s all too easy to fixate on what we do and neglect who we are. Malcolm Gray gives us a few ideas on how to restore some balance to this.
I’ve just returned to the UK after spending 16 years in rural Thailand. When you live in a community like that, people observe you; not necessarily observing everything you do, but paying particular attention to your attitude. It’s uncanny how opportunities to do God’s work often arise from simply being who he calls us to be. If your neighbour confides in you or asks you to pray for them, that opportunity is created because your attitude has made them feel secure with you.
Getting my attitude right is always a challenge. But here are a few things which have helped me with that ...
Reflect on 1 John 3:16. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” This verse has made a deep impact on me. It’s the definition of what kingdom love is: giving worth to other people at a cost to ourselves. Why not reflect on what that might mean in your context?
Ask yourself, “Did I love well today?” For a season, I asked myself that question every night, before I went to bed. It sometimes revealed to me that I’d acted in a way that wasn’t very honouring to people or to Jesus. It would challenge me to change my attitude.
Choose to see each individual as having insurmountable value. I think this is really important. If I want to honour someone, my perception of that person makes a big difference. If I see them as annoying or unpleasant, then doing anything for them can feel a chore – my heart just isn’t in it.
So let’s start by choosing to see each person we meet as God sees them: an individual made in his image.
Imagine Jesus with you. When I’m in difficult circumstances, I sometimes pause, ask Jesus where he is in the situation and then wait to see what he reveals to me. I prayerfully imagine what he is doing and saying, who he is listening to, and the expression on his face, the look in his eyes. It helps shape my own attitude to what’s going on.
Of course, I don’t mean this to be a simplistic four-step plan for how to be a missional follower of Jesus. But I’ve found these ideas challenging and helpful. I hope you do too.