It’s curious to me how many end goals, expected outcomes… or agendas we attach to caring for someone.
With sincere hearts we create agendas from a sense of obligation, responsibility… even calling. We mean well. We feel an obligation to be helpful. We feel responsible to lead people to hope. We feel called to rescue and deliver. But too often our agendas for an expected outcome get in the way of what we’re actually trying to do: CARE.
- Sometimes we care so we feel better about ourselves. Like, serving at a local soup kitchen or our local church. Self-significance is our agenda.
- It’s easy to care - subconsciously or intentionally - hoping to endear someone to us. Relational peace can be our agenda.
- We want to see the person we love make a change in their life. Fixing someone is our agenda.
- Maybe our care will move someone to surrender their life to following Jesus. Our agenda is to gain another convert.
The challenge with agendas is that people can read them like a sky-sized banner trailing behind a biplane over an ocean beach. You can't miss it. There’s obviously some “other” motivation for giving our time and interest. People quickly feel like a project. They assume they are our “assignment,” and if we’re successful, we’ll get some points notched in our mantel of soul-rescuing trophies.
When people fish out our ulterior motives, they’re likely to resist our help. They'll hold back, assuming we’re one more person in a long line of would-be helpers who have betrayed their trust with an agenda to “fix” them.
There is one and only one legitimate agenda for caring for someone: LOVE. That’s it. To LOVE them - right where they are.
Granted, it’s difficult to not hope for an outcome. We want the person we're caring for to feel loved. We want them to take a step in accepting the embrace of Grace. We hope they’ll live in hope. We long for them to find deliverance from despair, depression and isolation.
But. These hopes risk setting us up to be only partially present, constantly thinking past the present, wondering - even praying - about how we can help this soul live into the future with hope. Our thinking into tomorrow pulls us out of the "today" where they are living. We can only be with them in the moment if we stay "here." In their pain. In their sorrow. In their anger. In their despair. Our racing mind and praying heart risks pulling our soul away from them. This person needs us here. With them. In this moment.
David Wagoner penned these poetic words about the present moment:
Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
No agenda, except to LOVE them. Here. Now. LOVE.
I could provide caveats to this single agenda. After all, aren’t there exceptions? Times when our agenda is legitimate, even right? What if the person has come to us for help? What if we know they’re blind to the crap inside them? What about the person we know so well, we can only tell them the truth?
What about those people? Those circumstances?
I have only one question: When has LOVE ever not been enough?
When we start with LOVE, He will open doors that can be opened, lead us to conversation that comforts, heals and challenges, and bring outcomes that all about His transforming GRACE.
Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. And the second, he added, is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.
One agenda. Only one.