Ask for Names
There is just something about hearing your name. It’s personal. You are named. So is every other person you meet or see. They need to hear their name. Watch the countenance of a waitress change when you ask them their name instead of yelling, “hey, you.” Watch the checkout person smile when you read their name tag and ask them how they are. Names matter, and it matters when you acknowledge…and then work to remember names. For those you will see again, write down their name when you get to the car. Keep a notecard in the car….so you can say hello to them again when you see them…by using their NAME. See what happens when you love people this way. My husband taught me this. He lives it well.
Pray on the Go
The most Spirit-empowered prayers I have whispered happened off the cuff. When you drive through the neighborhood, pray for peace and God’s kingdom to reign. Circle your child’s school and pray for guidance and wisdom and favor. How many times have we missed opportunities to see into the needs of others by not asking the Father to speak to us? Pray for your mailman as he drops by. Ask a friend, “how can I pray for you today?” When prayer becomes your intentional daily practice with people, you will go through your days differently. Don’t wait for open hours to pray; it may not happen today. Talk openly and listen intently. Think of the 3 Keys: Look, Listen, Speak. Look beyond what you see with your eyes. An angry person is hurting. Listen to people talking. They often are saying something different than the words you hear. Speak life. People need it.
Then Tell Them About It
People don’t know you are really praying for them until you tell them. Consistently, genuinely and intentionally. I’ve found a great way to encourage teachers (who need so much encouragement) is to write a series of notes over time. Make one simple statement to people: “I am praying for you. Then follow-up and follow-through. Let them know weeks later, “I am still praying for you.”
How often do you think most people receive a note specifically asking them what someone can pray for them about? Choose someone in your life today who needs prayer and decide to let them know – in different ways on different days – that you will be standing in the gap for them.
Give an Unexpected Gift
Don’t wait for Thanksgiving or Christmas to offer a gift. Kindness is most noticed when it is unexpected. Gift gifts to your child’s teacher when there is no holiday obligation. Send a basket to the owner of your local store thanking them for serving you. And when we do this for very small things – showing people we care that they are in our lives – they remember it.
Follow Your Holy Discontent
That issue in your town that causes the most frustration can actually ignite the most fuel in your spirit – when you choose to act. What grabs your heart the most just might be the one place God is calling you to serve. Serve there. Don’t be afraid to say no to other things when you are willing to give a BIG yes to God in at least one area. Choose to do one Big thing REALLY well. Your town needs your voice, your service and your heart.
Acknowledge the Unnoticed
I wrote a note to an assistant to the director of the bus routes for my childrens’ school. The next time I spoke with her over the phone – not knowing her at all – she spoke to me like a close friend and told me how much it meant to receive that. Some people NEVER get thanked. Find them. Look for the people who sit by themselves. Have you ever tipped the water boy at your restaurant? It’s one of my favorite things to do. Ask your waiter who cleans the table and get a tip to them. The people in the background help run your town, your church, your business. They are not in the background to God.
Carry Your Pass Card
Most days, everyone just needs a pass. We need a do-over. That person who pulled out in front of you probably is not your major enemy. That rude clerk needs grace like you do. And on some days, those closest to us can be out of character – just like us. We are all works of progress in need of redemption. How much frustration could be released if we chose fewer issues to fight. How many mountains are we really willing to die on? Most things that cause so much frustration are very small indeed. Someone in your path – today – needs a pass from you. Offer it freely and with love. Let someone be angry. Check your judgements at the door of your mind and hand out your pass card. Say in your mind, “Me, too, brother. I’ve got a lot of work to do.”
“Above all, LOVE each other DEEPLY, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8