I’m thankful for wise Christian men who have mentored me over the years. Some of them I have never met in person but their writings and talks have deeply shaped my faith and character. People like Eugene Peterson, John Wooden, Dallas Willard, Frederick Buechner, Chuck Swindoll and Andy Stanley.
Eugene Peterson who was the writer of the Message translation of the Bible once said in a conference, “I will not look at people as problems to fix or resources to use.” This really struck a chord with me because oftentimes as leaders and as pastors, we tend to view people in this way. Sometimes it’s about giving a quick answer to their problems or wanting to utilize their talents to help build the church. Not all of this is bad but can we simply come with the agenda of not having an agenda but opening our hearts and ears to listen and just love on them as Jesus would.
I personally struggle with this because I’m impatient and I like to quickly just resolve a problem whether it deals with people or systems. But I realize when I see people as problems to fix, then they become a mere obligation and a to-do on my checklist rather than a person whom God dearly loves. Moreover, when we see people as resources to use, they can become a mere tool to further the mission – however spiritual and beneficial it may be – rather than serving and utilizing their gifts because they understand the grace and love of God.