This is a challenge to all of us to encourage each person in the Idea Network and beyond.
There was an Idea Day regional event some years ago where we received an email asking us to submit to be a speaker. In theory, I believe it makes sense; however, when you’re dealing with pastors or ministry leaders that have read 1 Peter 5:6 “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you at the proper time” or Luke 18:14b (“…because everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted”, you don’t get many responses.
What does that have to do with the unknown guy? Everything.
Most ministry leaders don’t walk into a room and think, “Ok, everyone here needs to know me” or “I need to meet everyone here.” And no matter how much encouragement we may get to make new friends and connect with others, we find ourselves sticking with our circle and being introduced to friends of friends. This is natural and comfortable for us.
What about the unknown guy that doesn’t really have a circle? Or the unknown guy that is an introvert and doesn’t connect well with others? The lady who doesn’t connect with other ladies quickly? The person that is introverted and whose spouse does most that talking?
It leaves them unknown. It leaves them left out. It leaves them without a voice in a network that is founded upon everyone having a voice and sharing their idea.
How do we take care of these men and women?
First, you can’t care for someone that you don’t know. We must consider them (Hebrews 10:24). The word “consider” in this verse means to observe. We are to observe others and provoke them to good works. It takes being intentional and observing the people around you at an Idea Network event. Then, you must make that uncomfortable stroll across the room, risk tripping over your own two feet, and then find some way to introduce yourself that doesn’t make you sound like a nerd. (Am I the only one who has these thoughts when introducing myself to new people?)
Then, you do what every middle school boy is afraid to do...you get them digits. Or at least get their name so you can find them on Facebook (or for you cool kids, Instagram).
Lastly, you reach out from time to time; you pray for them when you see a post; you send an encouraging message; and if your meme game is on point, you drop some memes in the comments section of their post.
Sounds simple, right? Maybe too simple....(in the best Billy Mays voice you can muster.) “But wait...THERE’S MORE!”No, there’s actually not. I just like Billy Mays’ comment and try to use it when I can. Is that really it?
OK, so practically speaking, that scenario is just ONE way to take care of the unknown guy. Philosophically though...yeah that’s it.I mean, that’s what we preach to our congregations, isn’t it? Go strike up a conversation, develop the relationship, and lead them to Jesus.
Then why do we make it so difficult when it comes to those with whom we are co-laboring for the Lord?
Jesus isn’t just for an unbeliever. You know who needs to be reminded of the promises of God most? Those of us who preach them.How many times has your spouse reminded you of a spiritual truth that applies to your situation that you have preached more than once? Ever had a friend drop a Bible bomb on you that you’ve studied out multiple times? I’ve been in both situations more than once.
We need other ministry leaders to help us in our walk with the Lord. We need other ministry leaders that can relate to our situation, pray specifically for us because they know exactly what we are going through, and encourage us in the Lord.
At this point, you’ve got one of three thoughts in your head:
1. Why am I still reading this? This guy has no clue what he’s talking about;
2. I agree, but no one will benefit from knowing me;
3. I agree, but I don’t have the time to encourage someone;
4. I agree, but I’m the introvert...
If you are thinking number 1, I don’t have to address it because you’ve stopped reading.
If you are on the second thought, let me encourage you: you are dead wrong. I mean you could not be more wrong than you are in this thought.
You are a child of God, you are more than a conqueror, you are an ambassador of Christ, you are redeemed, you are loved, you are worth Jesus’ death to be saved, and you have the Holy Spirit of God living inside of you. EVERYONE will benefit from knowing you. There isn’t a single person that you would message and say, “Hey, I prayed for you as I scrolled past your post today” that wouldn’t be blessed.
I could see most of us, definitely myself, resting on thought 3. While most of you are better at keeping your schedule than I am, I’d be willing to bet that if you decided to take 5-10 minutes a week to pray for some random guy in the Network and message him about it, you will be blessed greatly. I mean, Jesus did say for us to have love for one another and that that’s how people would know we are his disciples (John 13:34-35). If you are applying this only to your local church context, I’m afraid you’re missing out.
OK, now let me address the one that I have the hardest time understanding, because I’ve never been introverted. I want to respect how God made you. I want you to know that as an introvert you are exactly who God has designed you to be and will befriend and minister to exactly those for whom God has you designed.
I’d also like to challenge you to step out in faith, not to change who God made you to be, but to live out the truths already mentioned here. Maybe walking over to another pastor or ministry leader in a crowded room is the epitome of fear for you. That’s ok, but what could you do? How could you encourage someone?
Remember, you won’t be rejected. You will be appreciated, and your efforts to care for the unknown guy will bless you more than them.