I had just settled into my office with a full day of work before me and very little margin on the calendar. Opening my Bible, I pulled out a notepad to start working on a sermon when I received a phone call. Knowing how busy I was, I reluctantly picked up the phone. Right after I answered, I knew it was a mistake. It wasn’t because a telemarketer was on the other end; it was a woman in tears. She was sobbing so intensely that she could barely speak. She didn’t go to our church or any church for that matter. She was in a tough spot with her family. She was scared and didn’t know who else to call, so she called a church to find a pastor. During the first few minutes of the call, I found myself thinking, I have so much to do today. I don’t have time for this.
When he saw the crowds, he felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd
I’m always struck by Jesus’ response to people in need because it’s often very different than mine. I tend to see people as a hindrance to my productivity rather than an opportunity for ministry, and I’m the pastor! Jesus’ posture toward others is a challenge to me to gain perspective on what’s most important.
While on the phone with this woman, the Spirit pulled back the veil on my own heart. He showed me my misguided understanding of ministry. It’s not about increasing my productivity or preaching great sermons as much as it is about opportunities to be present with people in need. Be open to the people God brings your way as opportunities, not distractions. Have the eyes of Jesus to see them with compassion.
How can you create margin or be more open for those God brings your way? Pause and pray that God would give you a heart of compassion for those you encounter today.
People may excite in themselves a glow of compassion, not by toasting their feet at the fire, and saying: “Lord, teach me compassion,” but by going and seeking an object that requires compassion. –Henry Ward Beecher
This article is an excerpt from Stand Firm, a daily devotional for men.
View a sample issue of Stand Firm.