If you want to make a difference in this world, you have to see so you can serve.
I saw a young man lift the hood of his car and peer at the engine under the hood.
It was at night, no less.
Well, let’s just say, before the surgery that gave me Better Than Ever eyesight, I wouldn’t have noticed such things.
“Look!” I told my husband, sister, and brother-in-law. “That guy is probably having car trouble.”
No response. The only noise was of an engine failing to turn over as the guy’s female companion attempted to start the car.
I looked back toward the young man bending over the engine, his companion now standing beside him. Truth: there was nothing I could personally do. I was with other people. It was 9:30 at night outside an empty movie theater: how safe would it be to offer help? So I dismissed what I saw. “He probably knows what he’s doing,” I said out loud.
Without a word, my husband circled the parking lot and stopped our car beside the young man. “Having battery issues?” he asked as he got out of the car. “I’ve got jumper cables.” Yes, Preacher Creature had seen the car too. And, unlike me, he’s had enough car experience to know the common occurrence of a young couple on a date coming out to a dark parking lot after a movie to find their car battery dead.
I saw the problem. Preacher Creature saw what could be done to solve the problem.
- How the problem could be fixed.
- His available equipment and skills to fix the problem.
- The situational security – three of us, two of them, and a security guard circling the parking lot.
The Process of Serving
I’m so tickled I even noticed that someone needed help. I’m proud of my husband for responding to the need. And through it all, I learned an important 3-step process in helping others.
- Notice: We can’t help others if we don’t first see the problem.
- Assess: A ten second review of the situation and our available resources will reveal whether we’re the one best suited to help.
- Respond. We step out with faith and courage to bring about change for the good.
News media and non-profit mailings fill our minds with massive people problems and requests for help. Frustration grips our spirits because we cannot meet them all. If you’re like me, you wonder which appeal for help is legitimate or whether a few dollars in an envelope makes much of a difference. Yet, in our push to see the scope of world need, we often overlook the needs that are right in front of us.
How Can I Serve?
In my gated seniors community, it’s easy to think, “There’s not a homeless problem. I haven’t seen any pregnant teenage girls—why then does the news talk about abortion rates among pregnant teenagers? And what can I possibly do about it anyway?” Yet hurting people brush past our lives every day, whether it’s a stranger in a parking lot or a family member in chronic pain. Noticing the needs and hurts of others requires determination to look within the parameters of our corner of the world yet beyond the six-foot bubble of our own existence. We’ll be most effective to respond to world need when we use our mid-range vision to serve the people we see every day.
How can you improve your focus on other people?
- Pray: Each morning, ask the Lord, Who do You want me to see today?
- Pause: Unstuff your day so you have the flexibility to stop for other people. You may think you don’t have time, but God is the Lord of time and space. If you stop in His name to care for someone else, He will bless and stretch your moments to get everything else done.
- People Watch: Observe the people around you. Look at their face. Watch their body language and their interactions with others. Keep praying that the Lord will show you what He wants you to see.
It’s The Small Stuff
Our help doesn’t have to be big or costly. While in line at a dollar discount store, I noticed two small active boys with an increasingly distracted father. I smiled and engaged one boy in conversation about the items he intended to buy. And I saw the father take a breather.
I’m delighted that my new vision allowed me to notice someone in trouble that night in the movie theater parking lot. I’m glad I’m married to a man who knows how to use a pair of jumper cables. We were able to be the hands and feet of Jesus to a stranded couple because we saw the need and my husband responded. And my experience caused me to ask, Who else have I not noticed before now? The satisfaction of easing the stress of someone’s day makes me want to do it again.
Granted, we may not be the person to do the helping. If I were alone, had two small children in the car, and knew nothing about jumper cables, it would be unwise for me to stop and offer help. But I still could help by praying for the stranded stranger or connecting with the security guard. At the very least, noticing a need gives me practice in thinking through what I could do to help and how I could respond the next time.
As God opens your eyes to the needs of hurting people around you, praise Him that you noticed. For seeing the hurts and hearing the heart cries shows that you are gaining the perspectives of your Heavenly Father and learning to love as He loves.