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How many people do you “visit” because they have something to offer? Walmart clerk, paint store team member, grocery checkout lady, bank teller, your favorite barista. I’m sure in thirty minutes you could come up with dozens of these helpful people who serve you.
Let’s say that all of them lost their jobs. You would be sad, but your relationship with them would probably end. You did not go to these businesses because they were there, but because of what they provided for you.
I’m in the counseling business, and I have thousands of friends. If I stopped counseling, my thousands of friends would disappear—for the most part. They want what I have—intellectual property. They would not even know I existed if it were not for what I provided.
Upon realizing that folks were “using me” for what I provided, I became discouraged. One lady told me during counseling that I was a “rent-a-friend.” I wrote about it here. We laughed. Then I thought about it. I stopped laughing. I realized if it were not for my “service,” she, too, would have no interest in me. This problem is fundamental for all of us.
Sometimes I hear people complain something like this: “We left the church, and nobody sought us out. Obviously, we did not matter to them.” I understand the sentiment, but it’s not precisely on target. Some of the church folks did care for them and enjoyed their company, but they left and were no longer in their sphere network.
Would you track down your Walmart clerk after she left your routine life, those places you typically visit? Few will seek you out if you leave the church where you mainly were connected. They met you at corporate meetings, small group gatherings, and other church functions. You’re no longer in their regular travel routes. Hardly would anyone add another pin on their “friendship map” to see you. Would you?
Think about your life as a circle with your regular routine all around the ring. Each day, week, or month you go places, e.g., school, church, work, neighborhood, grocery, gas, dentist, parents, church friends, and more. Then a church member leaves and goes to another church where they pin that church onto their “circle.”
Let’s say five people left your church and did similarly. There is no way you could consistently flow in and out of your routine and into their regular travel and relational loop. Perhaps they should have given you a call or email, but that’s a lesser matter.
God’s world is like a large vineyard, and sometimes He moves His laborers to different spots of the field. We see this with Abraham, Elijah, and, of course, John the Baptist was nomadic as you could be. I do not see this as bad news or even a separation; it’s an expansion of relationships, memories, and the Lord’s good work.
“Our two souls therefore, which are one, though I must go, endure not yet a breach, but an expansion, like gold to airy thinness beat.” –John Donne
Our most vital need is for financial supporters. If you can help us, will you? We are doing more, and people are asking for more. To keep up, we must hire more while developing the resources to meet the demand.