“Outflow” is the word I used in a recent book to describe the attitude we live in when we are noticing our way into the lives of others. All who have been created in the image of God (that’s all of us reading this!) have been molded with the notion of “Normal” being us noticing others all the time. Put another way, it feels right to notice the need in others before the needs in us are noticed. That is a vital distinction to point out. We live in a time when nearly all wait until their needs are met before any energy is spent even considering moving out toward those around us.
Keep our nose outward.
We have a nose that can be directed just one way at a time in life. Our noses direct us and repel from pursuing directions. How yours directs you is up to you to a measure. Your heart’s desire is something that affects your nose. You can wait for the attention of others to be sent your way before you begin to move forward, or you can simply begin to move forward in a vote toward health.
Let’s forget about ourselves.
There is a worship song that has this line in it. It continues, “And magnify the Lord and worship him.” That’s great biblical and human truth. We cannot keep our minds set on more than one profound truth at a time. We are capable of focusing upon one strong emotional matter at a time. We tend to be persuaded by something that clogs our mental capacities. The rest falls to the wayside. We are not capable of thinking of two large emotional matters at once.
Keep track of others on a regular routine.
When we keep to routines it is far easier to stay honest with outwardness. Without a routine to stick with we are hopelessly incapable of staying in sync with outsiders. Far from, uh, routine, they are mightily helpful in directing us to think in terms of the connectivity of the “Us and Them” factor. Without that gift, you and I will be doomed to be stuck in short-termed-itis. To grow forward into a regular routine here are some hints that will direct you into the lives of others:
Shop at the same stores, so you will get to know the same people who work there
Learn the names of people who work there
Use their names when frequenting those stores. You’ll be surprised how easy the name thing comes to you when you ask God for a little bit of help in this department. (Word on the streets is that God is love and part of that equation is He gives power to those who are interested in showing His love!)
As is earthly possible show extreme kindness to the workers at those stores – buy them a bottle of water to drink. If they feign the water, leave it for “Someone to drink later” – they know you bought it there so they will certainly drink it later in their shift. The only reason they will initially resist your kindness is they are taken back by your kindness. Hey, it’s not every day someone like you comes into the store! You may be a spy from corporate who is checking in on them to see how they deal with the public! Better to be stern than nice, they figure! I’ve been through this many hundreds of times!
Learn from God the ways of kindness. You will grow in the discipline of servanthood and the kindness of God will show up in huge ways. He will do what only He can do. He will move in your situations as only the strength and presence of God can accomplish.