One of my duties as a pastor at my church is to serve as the “pastor of the day” a couple of times a month. This means that, during my day, if someone calls in to the church looking for help, prayer, food, counseling, or assistance with anything else, they are directed to me. If someone wants to meet with a pastor, and it’s my day, then they are directed to me. This is scary and intimidating to me for many reasons. (But you’re a pastor!)
One of the reasons that this scares me is I’m afraid that I won’t know what to say. I’m afraid that someone will have a problem, they’ll poor their heart out to me, and then I’ll look at them with a blank look on my face…only to shrug my shoulders and say, “I don’t know.” (This has kind of been a running fear in my life. The fear of “I don’t know”. I hate not knowing.)
I’m also afraid that I’ll give somebody the wrong kind of help, and they’ll be harmed from it. Like if somebody needs money for food, I give them said money, and they go out and spend it on booze or drugs. All because I gave them a band-aid rather than helping them treat their real problem.
Here’s what I know: We are called to help people. We are called to love them. We are not called to know everything, nor are we called to make sure that they use our gifts of benevolence for what we intend.
I remember a conversation with my friend Kurt over spaghetti about this. He said that he and his family were out and about one day, when they saw a man with a sign: Homeless. Please help. Kurt said that he is always a little hesitant to help these guys because he’s not sure what they’ll use the money for. In a rare moment of wisdom, I said to him, “Yeah, I’ll bet that’s how God feels sometimes. He gives us stuff, and we pervert it in the way that we use it.”
Sometimes, we don’t help people because of how we THINK they MIGHT abuse our gift. We don’t know (See…there it is again) so we assume. What if God did that? What if God withheld gifts from us based on how we would use them. And remember, God KNOWS exactly what we’re going to do with what he gives us. And He still chooses to bless us.
The next time you see someone in need, like the person who is always standing outside of Fashion Valley with a cardboard sign, or the person who you see everyday, but never talk to, ask yourself, “How does God see this person?”
It’s kind of like what a very wise theologian named Big Kenny once said; “Love Everybody”…