Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Developing Hearts for The Hurting In Your Home

As I write today I'm just a few days now from leaving for eight days in Russia. It will be my eleventh trip there. And I know that once again I soon will be hit head on with how blessed we are in America and how God has given me and my family so much. I always come back enriched and with my heart full though when I'm around these sweet people who have learned to live with lots less than me.

I also grieve as do people all over the world the huge losses in Haiti from the recent earthquake there. Thousands have died and those who were already so poor now have even less. And while many are giving time, treasure and talents to help, none of us can ever understand the incredible pain and suffering these people are facing.

You see I'm reminded once again how important it is for us and our families to do our best to not only learn about and understand those less fortunate than we are but to also do what we can to help in very tangible ways.

So how can we do that in our busy, often comfortable, worlds? Do we have to literally go and live in another country or even travel to places of poverty to do so? Not necessarily.

First, start by re-evaluating your own lifestyle. A family at my church recently moved into a smaller home. They could easily afford the larger one but they made a conscious, deliberate decision to downsize and give more away! Wow.

They didn't just talk about re-evaluating - they did it! Can you imagine the long-term impact their decision will have on them and their children's view of things, success, and possessions in general? Think about the lessons they are already learning about having less and giving more away!

Maybe downsizing will be just cutting back on some luxuries, not always having to have the big vacation or skipping the extra lattes for awhile. You'll have to decide that for yourself. However, think about ways to literally change some of your everyday practices so that you can help others more.

Second, become intentional about giving. If you attend church, it's likely that the leaders there have already developed some ready-made connections with organizations where you can give your time, talent or treasure. Give sacrificially to your church so they can help those groups and then give over and above that. Pick a group that you and your family will help on a regular basis and involve your children in the process.

We just started helping a single mom and her kids who live in an RV (yes an RV) here in Austin. Our small group joined forces and we've committed to help her, not just with money, but with time, advice, counsel and direction so that she eventually thrive on her own. We've just started but there's something very special and meaningful about the relationship we've begun with her and her children.

Third, get your hands dirty. Our church provides scores of missions trips and serving opportunities, both locally and abroad, that our people can become a part of each year. Almost every person who goes has two things happen. First of all, they get wrecked in a good way. They see how much they have, they build relationships with real people, and they figure out that they've never felt so alive than they did when they were actually caring for others. They are never the same after that.

In addition, they begin to develop a lifestyle that is more about giving than taking. And their kids start to see the changes and they too get involved. Many of our people who served here locally now serve at least once a month if not more. In many locations we now know the names of the people we serve because we see them all the time.

No person or church can do everything but we can all do something. And if we want to teach our children the importance of giving, loving and serving others then we can start the process now by getting "dirty" together.

Who could you start helping today? A neighbor, a friend, some people in your neighborhood, community or city? What special gifts and resources do you have that might encourage someone else? You may not be able to leave for Russia or Haiti today, but you can start helping close to home. Do it now. Jesus said in Matthew 25:40, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these of mine, you did for me."

How could we not do something?
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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