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Chasing off elephants

Faith & Inspiration

There are several elephants in the room at my church every Sunday morning. They are the people I have been worshipping with for decades and have no relationship with. Some of them I once talked to, and then over time somehow they became nothing more than faces in the hallway.

Last Sunday our pastor preached on forgetting about ourselves and reaching out to others. He used Timothy as an illustration, the man of whom the apostle Paul said:

“I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare” (Philippians 2:20).

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Pastor Davis told us that the trick to loving others is forgetting about yourself and caring about the welfare of somebody else.

For my money, a good sermon proclaims the Word of God—and a superlative sermon fleshes it out with examples. Pastor Davis shared with the congregation that he, being 80 years old, is hampered by not one but two generations gaps in his family. The gulf between him and his grandson seemed like the Grand Canyon, until one day he needed help with his computer. He phoned his grandson and that afternoon they became fast friends. Brian has gone back to college now, and his grandfather will pray for him—and this time he will have a better idea what to pray for.

The sermon was helpful to me immediately. There is a woman in the church whom I avoid because “Hi” gets old and threadbare after 30 years. But I have a question about physical therapy and she is a physical therapist. What if I go up to her and ask her my question? So I crossed the assembly room to the section where she always sits and said, “Hi Laurie, I wonder if I could talk to you sometime about therapy. That’s what you do for a living, right?” You may be interested to know that she did not tell me to go soak my head; she stood there are spoke for a good 15 minutes on a subject she is passionate about.

The moral of the story: If you want a wedge into someone’s life, or need to chase an elephant from a room, find an area you need help in that the person can help you with, swallow your pride, and make your move.

A man I know had lived in a neighborhood for years without ever meeting his neighbors. The longer the situation went on, the more embarrassing it was for him. If he knocked on their doors, what could he say to them at this point? He decided on something absolutely brilliant: “Hi, I’m really embarrassed that I haven’t introduced myself after all these years. My name is J.P. and I live in the brick house at the corner. …”

Andrée Seu Peterson
Andrée Seu Peterson

Andrée is the author of three books: Won't Let You Go Unless You Bless Me, Normal Kingdom Business, and We Shall Have Spring Again.

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