I wrote this for staff at Lifewater who I am honored to serve alongside of, and I thought you might enjoy this as well.
Quite often out of an intimate encounter with God encounters with other human beings become possible…If you are the beloved of God, if you start thinking about other people’s lives, you start realizing that they are as beloved as you are. One of the profound experiences of the spiritual life is that when you discover yourself as being the beloved son or daughter of God, you suddenly have new eyes to see the belovedness of other people.
It is very interesting because it is the opposite of what happens in the world when they say you are very special, that means you are not the same as the rest. If you win an award and they say you are different than others, then that award is valuable because not everybody gets that award. The world is saying that you are only the best when not everybody else is the best.
~Henri J.M. Nouwen, “Discovering our gift through service to others,” a speech given to members of Fadica, 1994 as quoted in Advent and Christmas Wisdom from Henri J.M. Nouwen. Liguori: Liguori Publications, 2004. pg 42
I love these words by Nouwen and they make me pause to think about the work that we are called to. At times I am caught up by the urgency of our work and of the demands of the many different things that we balance. There are partner needs, fundraising needs, field trainer needs. There are the needs in the office and outside of the office. The industry is changing and growing. We want to be innovating and improving both the industry and our work — we want our voices to be heard. There are budgets and numbers and proposals and reports. We put in hours to make better programs and find more dollars to fund the programs. Each and every thing is important in its own right.
But, in the moment I pause, I am reminded that not one of these things is as important as our foundation and the perspective that we bring to our work. Our foundation is in Christ and His view of both us and all of humankind. He calls us His beloved. We are truly loved by God — not because of anything that we have done, simply because we are. As I pause to take that in, my heart lets out a sigh as it is filled with goodness. I am the beloved of Christ. When I sit in this, it truly fills me and I want to invite other people into this goodness and I want this to be the foundation of my relationship with others. I want this deep love to flow from me to others, that others would know of Christ’s goodness through my interaction with them.
Yes, I want us to do great work, build great systems, and I want our work to be known. But, at the foundation of everything, I want everyone to know that God loves them because of how we choose to care for them and express this through our actions. Yes, I want the young girl in a village to have water. But, what I really want, is for her to know that she is the beloved of Christ – that she is worthy of that love and the dignity that comes with it. I want us to be known by this deep love wherever we go — in our offices and in the field. Let’s do great things, but may it always be on this foundation. In this season and always, may our hearts know that we are the beloved of Christ that we may, in turn, see everyone from our officemates to the village mamas to the new born children as the beloved of Christ. May this be the foundation of our work.