In a recent podcast episode, I talked with Michele Howe about how to serve like Jesus. During times of great pin, we’re often the most appreciative of the love and support of others. She shared what to do if the tables are reversed and we struggle to know what to do for others. If you missed that podcast episode, listen here: How to Serve Like Jesus: Embracing Service through Pain and Grace – Episode 266

In today’s post, Michele explores the vital role of understanding in our interactions, highlighting its importance in serving as faithful stewards of God’s love. She offers practical insights including a take-away action thought, a prayer of confession, and a call to duty, accompanied by a 7-day prayer schedule designed to foster wisdom and understanding in approaching loved ones in challenging situations.

Faced with a challenging situation, Beth sought God’s guidance through prayer. Discover how this deepened her humility and compassion, giving her the strength to support her loved one. Through Beth’s journey, we see how understanding can redefine our service, making it a true reflection of God’s love and our commitment to servanthood. Discover Beth’s journey and find out how you too can turn judgment into compassion and service through prayer and understanding!

Be sure to read to the end for a book giveaway!

Called to Serve: Embracing Understanding as a Path to Servanthood
By Michele Howe

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders.
1 Thessalonians 4: 11, 12

The first thing God does is forcibly remove any insincerity, pride, and vanity from my life. And the Holy Spirit reveals to me that God loved me not because I was lovable, but because it was His nature to do so. Now He commands me to show the same love to others by saying, “…love one another as I have loved you.” He is saying, “I will bring a number of people around you whom you cannot respect, but you must exhibit My love to them, just as I have exhibited it to you.”
Oswald Chambers

Beth was sitting at her computer catching up on her cousin Lacey’s family updates following both a recent graduation party and a wedding she couldn’t attend. What Beth stumbled upon made her heartsick. All sorts of thoughts ran through her mind as she swiped through Lacey’s photos of these events. Oh my. Oh dear. Oh no! Beth thought to herself as she perused the photos hoping they would get better, not worse.

Some photos into the scenes from the wedding reception, Beth felt so upset she had to avert her eyes. Feeling alternately dismayed and disturbed, Beth wished she hadn’t even opened up her cousin’s social media post. But, Beth thought out loud, Lacey texted me this morning and told me to please get on and look through her photos. She asked me to let her know what I thought. Lord, how am I supposed to respond when these photos don’t reflect the cousin I thought I knew so well?

Shaking her head from side to side, Beth’s heart and mind felt saddened and grief-stricken. What’s happened to Lacey that she would condone this kind of behavior at her daughter’s graduation and her son’s wedding? What was she thinking when she posted these awful photos for the whole world to gape at? Beth wanted to sit down and cry. I feel like I don’t even know her anymore. We were always so close and our walks with the Lord so in sync. I feel half upset and half angry. Lord, help me to sort out all these feelings.

Getting up from her computer because she needed to physically remove herself from those troubling images, Beth knew she needed a distraction. Come here, Zeke! Beth called to her Golden Retriever. Time for a walk. Let’s go! Grabbing Zeke’s leash, out the door they went. Beth fast walked her dog around the neighborhood three times, and she prayed the entire time. Lord, help me to not judge my cousin. Help me to understand what’s changed in her life since we last met. Help me to know how to get back into her life to love and befriend her again. I don’t want anyone judging me for mistakes I’ve made. But honestly, these images are going to stick with me for a while and I don’t want to cast judgment on Lacey every time I remember them. Give me your grace and wisdom and understanding to know how I can encourage my cousin in her faith. Amen.

~~~

When we are confronted with a drastically different picture of someone’s life whom we thought we knew so well, it can be troubling and upsetting. Beth and her cousin Lacey made their personal commitments to Christ on the same Sunday at the same church years’ earlier. Simultaneously, they began their faith walk with Christ by doing Bible studies together, serving in their youth group, going on summer missions projects, and perhaps most significantly, they were the only two believers in their families which bonded them even more.

Beth and Lacey were inseparable until young adulthood and marriage with children took them to different parts of the country. Still, Beth had always tried to stay in touch with her beloved cousin and sister in the faith. She loved Lacey. Over the years, life got busier and the miles between them did lessen the times they were able to see one another in person. Still, Beth just assumed her cousin was walking faithfully with Christ. But after viewing the pictures of Lacey’s celebrations and the immoral content depicted in them, Beth had to wonder.

But how to handle this disturbing yet enlightening situation? Beth prayed and asked the Lord for his wisdom and understanding as she formulated a way to respond to her cousin. She didn’t want Lacey to feel judged…but somehow, in some way, Beth believed God would want her to try to talk with Lacey about what matters most in their lives…Jesus. With a heart that still felt heavy and burdened, Beth realized she needed some time to prepare and pray. So that’s what she did.

The very last thing Beth wanted was to put up a wall between herself and Lacey. So, she bathed the upcoming conversation she knew she had to initiate in prayer every morning and every evening. She so wanted to pour out her love on Lacey, but she knew that as a fellow sister in Christ, she had to try to gently probe a bit into Lacey’s spiritual condition…not because she believed she was better or holier than Lacey. Never that. But because she was afraid her beloved cousin had abandoned her faith. Oh Lord, go before me in this challenging situation. Let my dear cousin know how much I love her and how much I care for her. Give me your wisdom, your understanding, so that I might help draw her back to you. Amen.

Take-away Action Thought
When I am tempted to judge another believer for their words and deeds that do not reflect the set apart life God commands, I will spend time in prayer asking the Lord to purify my heart motives. I will ask him to clothe me with a humble servant’s heart that only desires to see my loved one restored in fellowship with you.

A Prayer of Confession
Dear God, I am in a difficult position. I discovered some troubling events concerning my loved one and my heart is burdened and grief-stricken. This is not the same person I once knew and I’m not sure what has happened in her life to cause such changes. I’m afraid she has walked away from the faith we both share. Help me to be wise and understanding as I prepare to talk with her about these concerns. Clothe me with a humble, gentle spirit and I pray she knows how much I love and care for her. Give me your words of life to bring her back to you. Amen.

Call to Duty
Each morning and each evening this week, I will spend time praying for the conversation I want to have with my dear one. I will pray daily for the Lord to prepare both of our hearts that we will be able to be honest, teachable, and gentle with one another.

Called to Serve – We are Servants When We Exhibit Understanding

  1. Monday – Morning and evening, I will spend time praying for wisdom and understanding as to how to best approach my loved one.
  2. Tuesday – On this day, I’ll spend time looking up specific bible passages that I can share as the opportunities arise when I talk with my dear one.
  3. Wednesday – Today, I’ll enlist the prayer support of several mature believers who will pray along with me about this sensitive situation without divulging any personal information that may hurt my friend’s reputation.
  4. Thursday – As I spend time with God today, I’ll ask him to reveal to me if I have any known sins in my heart and life that I haven’t yet confessed. If I do, then I’ll ask for God’s forgiveness.
  5. Friday – Today, I’ll call (or email or text) my dear one and ask to set up a time where we can have a long heart to heart in person if possible.
  6. Saturday – Again, this morning, I’ll take more time to pray about what I believe God would have to say to my dear one and write down any bible verses I might share as well.
  7. Sunday – Today, I’ll spend this day giving thanks for my relationship with my loved one. I’ll take time to remember all the good experiences we have shared together and say, “thank you”, to God for blessing me with this dear person.

 

 

About Michele Howe

Michele Howe, authorMichele Howe is the author of more than two dozen books and has published over 2500 articles and reviews on parenting, women’s issues, and the empty next. Some of her books include Empty Nest: What’s Next? Parenting Children without Losing Your Mind, and Finding Freedom and Joy in Self-Forgetfulness.

Connect with Michele: Website / Facebook / Instagram / Twitter

 

 

 

 

Book Giveaway

Serving as Jesus Served by Michele HoweIn conjunction with this post and the podcast interview, Michele is giving away a free copy of her book, Serving as Jesus Served: Practical Ways to Love Others.

Leave a comment below sharing with us one thing you learned about how to embrace servanthood through understanding and you will be entered into the contest for your chance to win a copy of his book.

You could also share this blog post on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter then comment here to tell us where you shared it and you’ll also be entered into the drawing.

The winner will be selected at random and announced next Tuesday, May 28, 2024. Continental United States only.

 

 

 

 

Confronted with a difficult situation, Beth turned to God for guidance. Learn how prayer helped her cultivate a humble, compassionate heart, and the strength to support her loved one. Understanding can transform our service into a true reflection of God’s love and servanthood. Discover Beth's journey and find out how you too can turn judgment into compassion and service through prayer and understanding!

 

 

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