To make the greatest difference you need only take the smallest action. A simple moment of listening. A small offer of help. Those individual, one-on-one, human interactions steeped in caring and concern are what build meaningful lives.
Your personal ministry is not an organization, program, or plan. It is engaging the people right where you are in little everyday moments, letting them know they are not alone.
A band named The Fray released a song touching on this point entitled Run for Your Life. They talk about the importance of being available for other people during times of trouble. The lyrics reach out to someone who experienced loss with an offer of personal support and encouragement. Listen.
“Oh, you don’t have to go it alone.
Oh, you don’t have to go it alone, go it alone.
Run for your life, my love.
Run and you don’t give up.
All that you are,
all that you want,
run for your life right now.
And if you don’t know how
I’ll come back with you and take all that’s true
And leave all that’s burned behind.
Run for your life.” ~ The Fray
One of the most meaningful and memorable instances of this in my life happened in the simplest of moments not long ago. I needed to deliver something to a colleague but, since the individual was across the country, it was going to be difficult to do myself. The matter had a certain degree of urgency and I was becoming a little uneasy about reaching a resolution. Donna, a friend of mine, heard of my quandary. She called and offered to take a 45 minute train ride to make the delivery on my behalf. I never would have even thought to ask since the matter was far from a life and death issue. The kindness and sincerity in her offer cut through the fog that can often shroud my outlook. I felt physically warmed, found myself smiling, and was reenergized by a fresh dose of hope.
Imagine the effect your small action might hold for someone whose life has veered into darkness and trial.
Paul offers very similar instructions when writing to the people of Philippi.
“If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.”
Grand strategies are not what is needed to make a meaningful impact. The smallest moment of caring and concern can make a momentous difference in someone’s life. Placing another person’s needs ahead of your own is the way to build your community. All you must do is forget yourself.