It’s that time of year again: Fresh starts, resolutions and goal setting for individuals and strategic planning and visioning for companies. Plans are everywhere—we are going to be a fitter, happier, richer, calmer, more perfect people.
Normally, this would make this type A woman a very happy individual. But I’ve come to realize that we hide behind plans more than we execute them. As long as we are planning, we don’t need to act. “Are we helping the community?” we ask ourselves as we munch on our catered lunch during a retreat day. “Well, not right this second, but it is important to take time do it right,” we tell ourselves. “Best not to rush into anything,” we all agree across the conference table.
We lie to ourselves. We fear the boldness, and we hide behind the caution.
The truth is the world is not hard to crack.
For example, most of us do not need a miracle pill to lose weight; barring certain medical complications, eating less chocolate, more vegetables and exercising would work fine. But we hate those things, so we instead create elaborate schemes to reach a comparable effect.
We do the same thing when it comes to healing our world. We hold conferences on community building, give fancy banquets to unleash five year strategic plans, and spent thousands on special events where we “bring the people together.”
We create smoke and mirrors to generate warm fuzzies while still remaining comfortable. Well, my resolution is to stop buying it, and I invite you to join me. The world is crying out, and your intention to help it is no longer enough. It is time for follow-through. It is time to get uncomfortable.
How do we best love those in need? Jesus gave us a simple example. The problem is not that it is complicated to love the poor well. The problem is that it is challenging from our lens of fear, greed, and caution. These are Jesus’ directions:
Meet people where they are, listen to them, and love them, no matter what. Are they worthy? Do they have potential? Are they trying? Do they fit the criteria of who we said we would help? None of these questions matter. Just love people with the hope and prayer that they can become what they were meant to be—not what you want them to be—but what they were meant to be. Then, let God do the rest.
It may not be fancy. It may not create millions of gifts of charity and get a celebrity endorsement. But it’s the most effective way because it is of God. Those strategic plans sound phenomenal, but they are made of man. It is time to look up from those plans, and see the person in front of you in need.
Brother Jim is not afraid of action. He does not hide behind the need for good statistics. He does not rely on sound bytes from those with whom he works. There is no strategy beyond loving those he encounters. He is free from plans. While you’re busy meeting about how to help the poor, he’s out on the streets doing it. Consider this your open invitation to join him.