Did you know the word prejudice means “prejudging” or “making an estimate of others without knowing the facts?” I came across an article by Billy Graham about this topic and thought I would share some of his insight into this topic. I found this challenging and encouraging.
Graham says this about prejudice:
Prejudice stalks many countries. At times it is prejudice against a racial or religious minority within its boundaries. At times it is prejudice against people from other nations. At times it was prejudice or resentment against those who were wealthier or those who were poorer than the average. But prejudice is a universal problem. Why? One reason is because prejudice has its roots in pride-and pride is at the heart of sin. Just as sin is universal, so prejudice is universal as long as our hearts are untouched by God’s retreating power.
Prejudice is a mark of weakness, not strength; it is a tool of the bigot, but never a device of the true Christian. One of our great problems in this complex age continues to grow since modern man has forsaken the pathway of Christian mercy and understanding-and has chosen to walk the road of intolerance and intrigue.
All of us have personal biases and prejudices. Despite our improved educational system, our prejudices have grown in the past few years-so we can conclude that education is not the cure for all prejudice.
There is only one way we can get rid of prejudice: by the process of spiritual rebirth through Jesus Christ. Only then do we discover Gods love for all humanity, and only then will we begin to look at others through the eyes of God and see them as He sees them. Only then does Gods love begin to take root in our hearts, pushing out the hate and indifference and selfishness that have resided there. In myself I do not have the capacity to love others as I should, but “the fruit of the Spirit is love.” Yes, Christ can give us a love for others we would never have otherwise, “because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:5).
Billy Graham has a way of describing this that makes sense. Left to ourselves we will never love other people as God intended. We are quick to judge or at least make conclusions about someone before we get to know them. When our hearts start to transform as a result of following Jesus, we begin to think and see differently. Our actions follow and we begin to break the old patterns of prejudice, selfishness and resentment.
Jesus has this to say about this topic: ” Don’t judge other people, or you will be judged. You will be judged in the same way that you judge others, and the amount you give to others will be given to you.” He goes on to say this: “why do you notice the little piece of dust in your friends eye, but you don’t notice the big piece of wood in your own eye? How can you say to your friend, ‘let me take that little piece of dust out of your eye’? Look at yourself! You still have that big piece of wood in your own eye. You hypocrite! First, take the wood out of your own eye. Then you will se clearly to take the dust out of your friends eye.”
So it’s important to take a closer look at ourselves and work on our own issues before trying to work on someone else or prejudge someone else. It really starts with our own heart being set right before we can try to reach others. When our hearts are right we see others completely different and therefore how we go about helping others is completely different.
Last Sunday my wife and I went on a bike ride on the local Rails to Trails in Millersburg. It’s a great place to ride, walk or run because its mostly flat. We were with several friends enjoying the beautiful day. The local Amish also use this trail with their buggies because it’s nice to avoid the traffic on the main roads.
On our way back we came up behind a buggy that was going very slow. I was in front of the group and had to slow down, because some other people were coming the other way on bikes. We all slowed down as we got behind this buggy and then a young Amish man turned to me and asked what time it was. I didn’t have a watch on, so I couldn’t help him out, but this is what I said in Pennsylvania Dutch, “I’s bout site for gaya” which means it’s about time to go. With that I quickly passed him and headed on up the path. (I know just enough dutch to be a little dangerous.)
That was a brief encounter, but I haven’t been able to get that phrase out of my head. I don’t know why that came to my mind in that moment, but here is what I’ve been thinking about.
It’s about time to go. Most of us go through life living safely, trying to be as comfortable and happy as we can be. Our motivation is often for what is best for us or our kids. We can live selfish, private lives and never really have much impact or influence in the world around us. It’s so easy to get into our comfortable buggy and ride along the familiar trail and occasionally ask someone what time is it? Yet That’s not how God intended it. God never promised that life would be safe and comfortable. He did promise that he is good and faithful to be with us no matter where we are at. That should give us courage to go wherever he directs us.
God is telling us that it’s time to go. It’s time to step out of our comfort zone and push ourselves beyond our perceived limits. Now I realize that means something different to everyone reading this. For some it might mean having a difficult conversation with their spouse, teenager or adult child. Maybe it’s confronting someone at work and speaking the truth in love to them. It might be to give up some things you enjoy doing so that you can serve at church or spend more time with your family. It might mean not taking that job because it would hurt your relationship with your family. It could be to downsize in order to get a grip on your finances. It might mean taking your relationship with God more seriously and start reading through the Bible. It could be asking someone for forgiveness and admitting how you got it wrong. Whatever it means to Go for you, don’t hesitate, start today, find a new trail or speed up on the one your on. God loves us but he also doesn’t want us to stay where we are at, he wants us to grow in every area of our lives: Spiritually, emotionally, relationally and even physically. Where do you need to go?
Whatever it is for you “I’s bout site for gaya.”
For the past six years NewPointe Community Church has shut down regular church services on a Sunday morning and went out into the community to be the church by serving others. One of the core values at NewPointe is Serving Others, so it’s important to put into practice what we value.
Once a year all of the campuses of NewPointe find projects in their local communities and people volunteer to give of their time, talent and energy to serve our schools, villages, nursing homes, non-profit organizations and individuals that are in need.
This year we had nearly 1,900 people serving in four different counties in Northeast Ohio. I serve as Campus Pastor at our Millersburg location and we had over 250 people serving on 29 projects throughout Holmes County.
One of the projects this year was with the Humane Society in the Glenmont area. Their property was run down and in need of repair and over 20 volunteers spent 4-5 hours working on cleaning, painting, weeding and fixing things. There is still some work to do, but that team made a huge dent in what needed to be done.
Another project was for a lady that had a kidney transplant that rejected, so she is back to doing dialysis. She has not been able to take care of her property, so a team of volunteers stained her deck, landscaped her property and did multiple other projects to improve her home. It was a total transformation of her property.
We also had three team go to local nursing homes to visit with residents and to provide two church services to residents. I was able to visit with two elderly gentlemen and the one man talked with me for several minutes and then I asked him if I could pray for him. He said yes and I prayed for him and his health and his family. When I finished I noticed he had tears in his eyes. He said that he doesn’t normally cry but that had been happening more lately. I asked him if he and his wife have a church home. He said they do not go to church. I told him he is welcome anytime when he is feeling better. I left information about the church and my name so he could talk to his wife. Who knows what God is going to do with that.
There are so many more stories that happened on Sunday. We don’t want this to be just a onetime event, so we are planning to have local serving opportunities throughout the year. As we find people and organizations that we can help, we will spread the word and organize work days to help out our community. We are calling it the Helping Hands Team. If you want to be on the email list to be notified of projects, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
There is no better feeling than when you serve someone else. Let’s be known as the church that serves.
When it comes to leadership development there are so many resources out there that it can be hard to know what to focus on. I love reading about leadership and how to develop solid healthy relationships. Developing as a leader is vital for you to survive in your work environment, your home environment and in your own personal internal world.
There is no magic pill to take to become a great leader. It takes hard work, patience, failure and learning from experience to become a great leader. The same can be said of a great marriage or relationship.
The one skill that I have kept coming back to, that makes the most difference is listening. If I had to name one skill that could make the biggest difference in any organization, family, marriage or individual it would be listening.
When the people around you truly believe you are listening to them they feel that you care and value them. That creates a place where people feel safe, trusted and valuable. When people don’t believe you are listening to them, it creates many negative emotions like fear, anger, frustration, helplessness and indifference.
Entire books have be written about listening, but I want to give you a few simple things you can do at work and home to improve your listening quickly.
If your focus is on listening to the people around you, you will also start noticing things. You will pick up on when someone is struggling or hurting. You can even get some great new ideas. Listening will also help you be more patient, less emotional and more respected.
If you think about the people you like to be around, it’s people that listen well, they ask you questions and seem to be genuinely interested in you. Listening is something that’s ultimately done by an individual. Yet an organization or family can also have a culture that endorses and supports listening in all directions and ways.
One of the best ways you can develop yourself is to become a better listener. The cool thing is that you can start today, right now, with the next conversation you have.