Live Deep: Reach Out to the Poor
- Monday, March 19, 2007
* Learn from the poor. Approach your ministry efforts humbly. Recognize that God values poor people just as much as He does you, and in fact, He identifies especially with the poor. Realize that you can learn as much from poor people as they can learn from you. Ask God to give you the character (not just the skills) you need to live and work among the poor effectively. Allow the poor people you serve to serve you by helping you grow more spiritually and emotionally mature.
* Check how you’re investing your life. Regularly take stock of how you’re spending your time and energy. Ask yourself whether you’re primarily chasing wealth or pursuing God. Remember to seek God first, and all your other needs will fall into place. Live a simple and responsible lifestyle, following biblical principles of stewardship. Avoid consumerism and rely on God more for all your needs. Make sure that you’re modeling the kind of life you want to show poor people who are watching you.
* Persevere. Expect that it likely will take longer than you’d like to see the positive changes you’re hoping for among the poor people you serve. Get rid of unrealistic expectations for quick fixes and ask God to help you be patient and keep serving, even when you don’t see many people come to faith or build healthier lives. Be content to work without accolades from others. Keep on loving the people to whom you’re ministering, know that God will honor your efforts and use them at the right time and in the right way. Count on the fact that God will magnify the power of even your smallest efforts, so that, ultimately, the return on your investment will be much higher than you can imagine.
* Fight shame. Help poor people overcome the shame that often plagues them and find their confidence in God’s love for them. Understand that people who are physically poor are not necessarily also poor in spirit. Don’t pity poor people; view them as equals who simply have less material goods than you do. Let the poor know that not only has God not forgotten them, but Jesus Himself identifies with them. Always respect the dignity of the poor people with whom you work. Know that, while our society often views poor people as insignificant, they are extremely important and valuable to God.
* Don’t neglect prayer and giving. While working to build genuine friendships with poor people, remember to pray for them regularly and give generously to support ministries that serve their needs. Know that, while friendships are vital, so are ongoing prayer, financial giving, and volunteerism.
* Make Jesus your model. Regularly remind yourself of how Jesus embraced poor people and the sacrifices He made. Pray for the grace to emulate His loving, humble attitude. Take His example seriously as you go about your own ministry to the poor.
* Recognize that your work is also worship. Keep in mind that the work you’re doing among poor people – doing justice and sharing mercy – is not just a way of loving them, but also God. Know that as you show your devotion to the poor, you’re expressing your devotion to God, as well. Allow the experience to transform you into a more spiritually mature person.
* Keep a journal of your experiences. Write down how God is working through you as you minister to the poor. Regularly record your thoughts and feelings about your service in a journal. Go back to read it often, to renew your sense of purpose.
* Be creative. Think of innovative ways to reach out to the poor people around you. You may consider helping them start small businesses that help them pursue their interests and use their talents, opening your home for meals and Bible studies, or buying art supplies and inviting children to come by your place to express themselves through art. As you get to know the people with whom you’re working, let them suggest specific ways they’d like help. Respond to the needs they express, rather than your own agenda.
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