How We Help Others Journey
“Being on mission” is a phrase I’ve often used and loved. But one of the dangers in this mindset is how mission can easily turn into the treasure. When mission has moved to the center of ministry, mission is worshipped. Oh, friends. Far be it from me to worship the task over The Treasure.
Paul was clear, over and over, that his treasure was Jesus. He writes to the Philippi church, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord….that I may gain Christ...I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 4:8-14
If Jesus is not our treasure, then we have nothing to offer the world. So when we talk about mission, we must start here: a life with God and knowing Jesus is our prize, our treasure. And the more we know God and experience the richness of who He is, the more we want others to know God and experience His richness.
But often we lack some key ingredients to helping others in their spiritual journey toward knowing Jesus. We run into all kinds of barriers and limitations and it seems we need to revisit some simple tools in helping others know God.
Four tools to keep in our belt as we walk with God throughout our day.
1. Talk to God. So often we go throughout our day listening to the chatter in our mind about what we like or don’t like or what is most comfortable or not. But what if we turn that running monologue into a dialogue with our Jesus? What if we asked God, as we are with Him, what He has for us in each and every room we walk into, each errand we run, each meeting we enter, each person we cross paths with?
A simple practice in prayer can be to pray one of these prayers:
“Lord, what do you have here for me?”
“Lord, how do you see this person right now?”
“Lord, what does this person need right now?”
“Lord, show me how to love them right now.”
Being in constant communication with the Father in every space we find ourselves will not only open our eyes to see others as God does, but it is also fun to be on an adventure with God!
Questions to consider: What is my life with God like? What is the narrative going on in my mind? Do I have a running monologue or is it dialogue or somewhere in between?
Challenge: Stop right now and invite God in on what you are doing.
2. Use All The Spaces. Let’s think of different spaces as concentric circles that go from bigger to smaller, from casual to intimate. Public spaces are often referred to as “third spaces” where anyone is welcome at anytime. These are places like the city pool, coffee shops, festivals, sporting events, parks, grocery stores. Anyone can come at anytime to these places. As we do life with God, we find ourselves in third spaces all the time. We may just happen to run into people there, or we have invited them to this neutral ground.
When we are in these third spaces, this is where our life with God and practice of asking Him what He has for us is paramount. Jesus had time for everyone. He was on his way to heal a wealthy man’s daughter and a nameless poor woman interrupted Him to find healing. He stopped for her. He saw her. He loved her. He was not too busy for anyone and saw all humans through His Father’s eyes: men and women with dignity, value, and worth.
When you are at the grocery store, the post office, or your front yard, allow yourself the gift of interruption and ask God to follow His lead with whomever is in your path. We are on the great adventure of knowing and loving God’s people with Him!
The closer we move in proximity, the more a personal invitation is required. “Second spaces” are semi-private spaces that include an invitation to join you. Backyards, front yards, and coffee shops are places where you have personally invited someone to join you. Whereas in a third space anyone can be there, second and first spaces move closer to you in intimacy and invite.
“First spaces” are inside your home, especially at your table. The table is such a beautiful place for sharing food and fellowship. Another intimate first space is your church. Each of these first spaces are ultimately inviting people to your “home.” Although this can feel the most daunting, it’s also the place people can feel the most loved.
Third spaces are safe spots to meet new folks. Parks and coffeeshops are not as personal as your table and there is a need of that easy, safe space. As you listen to God, ask Him who and where to invite to what space. Use all the spaces, and see each human as made by God. Our culture is losing the invite to our dinner tables, which means we are losing intimacy with others. Ask God how to grow in your hospitality in all the spaces.
Questions to consider: Am I intentional about every space I am in? What kind of plan can I make to continue to invite others closer to me, from third spaces to first spaces? What feels challenging about inviting others into first spaces?
Challenge: Make a plan to intentionally be in all three spaces in the next few weeks. Invite others to join you in your plans.
3. Master Your Skills. The hardest skill to master is how to have a spiritual conversation; we will link another article on this soon. But our culture is slowly forgetting some basic social skills. These are very simple, and can easily be mastered. Pick one, master it, and then pick another and master that. God is our treasure, and people are His treasure. Let’s get to know all the people God has made and loves so deeply.
-Introduce everyone you know to everyone you know. Make sure people meet one another, try your best to remember names, and start asking questions to get to know others well. That friend who you love needs not only what you to offer them, but also what others give them as well.
-Be a question asker! Everyone loves to be known, and asking questions is an easy way to do this. Questions to ask:
“So, how do you spend your days?”
“Where are you from? What do you love about your home?”
“What do you like to do for fun?”
“Do you have a dream job?”
“How has your week been going?”
-Ask their advice or opinion, instead of giving your advice and opinion. “I am running into this with my child lately, how have you handled this?” This is disarming and moves you into a position of humility and a posture of learning.
-Listen well. Before you launch into a story or more about you, remember the Three Then Me Rule. Ask three questions about them before you talk about yourself.
Questions to consider: How am I doing at my social skills? What one skill can I choose to master?
Challenge: Ask a friend how you are doing in your social skills and what you need to improve on.
4. The Art of the Invite. As you close each interaction, look for ways to invite them to something you might both enjoy: “We should play tennis sometime (get coffee, bbq, have you over for dinner, go to happy hour, etc).” You may be the only Christian in their world. But if you invite them to your house with more friends who know Jesus, their understanding of the family of God will grow as they experience more of the body of Christ. And just as fun, you’ll learn more about your friend and enjoy them for who they are. These are amazing people to know and enjoy, not projects to work on and save.
This is where introducing everyone you know to everyone you know is so beautiful. It is good to know a variety of followers of Jesus and to see a fuller picture of God’s family. You aren’t going to be the best at some things, but a fellow believer has that skill set or gifting to offer. Maybe you can invite anyone to anything and you can bring people to cookouts like nobody’s business. But you often get stuck starting a spiritual conversation, so you introduce them to your friend who is brilliant at it. The body of Christ is so needed in showing and sharing Jesus. Living in community and loving others in the family of God is how God designed the world to know Him. “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” - John 13:35
Each of us has spaces and relationships that God has uniquely placed us in. Our life and these relationships are not accidents. As we begin to ask God about where we find ourselves, we can use these tools. May you have a blast as you go on adventures with God and love people well!