Recently, after a very encouraging workshop, I was able to almost immediately apply what I had experienced in a little different setting. It’s always a joy to make practical application of things I am learning and to watch the Lord use ideas, principles and opportunities He affords in ways that achieve His desired results.
While learning about shepherding others in a spiritual setting, we were introduced to the concept of relating transparently and truly connecting with one another.
In worship this morning I had the privilege of sitting next to someone I had never met before. We began our conversation with the normal greetings. And then wanting to apply these new principles I had learned, I went further in conversation in the brief time allotted and began to see and truly enjoy how and why the Lord had allowed our paths to cross. I was beginning to connect!
Some of the things I was able to discover about this person in that brief period of time were:
- He has the same name as a radio announcer on one of the Christian radio stations
- This is the only church that he had ever attended
- He had been married for 55 years
- His wife was of a different faith and did not worship with him
- The reason I had not seen him in the 20+ years I have been attending that church is that he usually sits in a different part of the Sanctuary
- He doesn’t attend a small group on Sunday mornings
- He was a former construction engineer in New Orleans
- He now lives in Prairieville but still attends church in Baton Rouge
- He didn’t necessarily agree with everything the church had done over the years but felt this was where he was led to worship as we are all imperfect and in need of God’s grace
Wow, all of this information learned in just a short period of time! This discussion allowed us to truly communicate and learn something about each other, to become comfortable as we conversed and also gave me an avenue to encourage him to attend a men’s Sunday School Class (I even invited him to visit our ladies class. HA!).
When the worship service was over, he turned to speak to me before I could even open my mouth (highly unusual as I’m always ready to say something). Both of us were glad we had the opportunity to meet. We’ll most likely remember each other’s names, where we prefer to sit in the Sanctuary and the fact that we both love our church. Now I will be looking for him in the weeks to come. I truly felt the Lord’s guidance as He allowed me to relate to and connect with someone with whom I had never spoken before. I was able to make a new connection in the church where I had been attending for so long.
There’s really something to this “connecting” thing. What many of us need to do though, is to DIS-connect: from our smart phones and computers and use the time God has given us to focus on something of vital importance – relationships with God’s people who are made in His image. When we begin to connect with another person we become intentional in creating that relationship or we intentionally go deeper in the way in which we already relate to them.
This sort of thing doesn’t just happen automatically – it takes a little planning and sometimes a lot of our time. But aren’t people worth it? What about those who don’t know Jesus? Who is going to take time to share with them? If the Lord puts them in your path, it could very well be you!
Let’s practice “relational connectedness” at every opportunity. Pray and ask the Lord with whom He would have you become more involved / more connected. The blessing is in the doing, especially if the Lord is the one Who does the directing. If you encounter someone you don’t know, stop and find out something about them. If someone’s name comes across your mind, give them a call, write them a note, plan to have coffee or a meal with them or just spend time enjoying each other’s company.
I like to take short day trips with my friends. This is time I am able to spend with them in a different setting while both of us enjoy our friendship and God’s beautiful creation. Those are the experiences in life that can make such a difference. Laughter and good times are always best when shared with friends.
My next planned encounters include supper with someone who serves in the same volunteer capacity in the Bible Study we both attend. She and I have known each other for 5 or 6 years, but it’s always neat to share ideas, our recent experiences as well as our prayer requests when we get together. Next week I will have lunch with someone I briefly met in May at our church’s Women’s Conference so I can get to know her a little better. None of this is possible without purposefully making time in our schedules.
Unless we are intentional in connecting relationally, we cannot positively affect another person’s life. Plus, connecting also enhances the quality of our lives as well. Start practicing relational connectedness today – you won’t be sorry you did…and neither will the other person!