In someone else’s shoes
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I helped my mentor to build a website. I showed him a couple of things quickly, said it was as easy as 1-2-3 and off I went. The next time I visited him I could see the frustration flowing from his office. He had not progressed at all. It hit me between the eyes as I remembered how I had struggled in the beginning. I had worked through the night, my eyes were red and I was so frustrated that I wanted to climb the walls. Before you master something, it can loom like a mountain before you and you consider throwing in the towel. I bit my tongue every time I wanted to say it was easy and thought of how I had struggled as well.
A woman told me how she was struggling to stop smoking. Before I could stop myself I said it was easy, because I had also been a smoker. However, as we kept on chatting I remembered how difficult it was and how many times I had failed. I knew it was bad for my body. Every time I read the part about our body being a temple it worried me that the Lord had to live in all that smoke in my body. Then I promised and stopped, until I could no longer keep the cravings at bay. At that point I was forced to buy a loose one at the corner café. I knew precisely where one could buy loose cigarettes. Before long I was buying a packet of 10, and before I knew it I was buying a packet of 20. Only when I stepped into her shoes I remembered that it was not so easy at all.
Before you say something to teach or even encourage someone, step into that person’s shoes. Be sensitive to that person’s circumstances and needs. Don’t simply shout instructions from your chair and go away satisfied. When someone loses a loved one I don’t simply look up a couple of comforting verses to mail to them. No, I think back on the times that I myself had struggled and tripped at the graves of my loved ones. I try and put on the other person’s glasses and see the world through their hurt eyes. Only then does the comfort become more than just a couple of verses, but real consolation.
This is precisely what Paul does. Paul pulls out all the stops to ensure that he understands the other person’s circumstances. He steps into their shoes and tries to look at life through their eyes. See where he takes it: 22I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. Wow, Paul was indeed driven by God. Everywhere he went he put all his energy into telling lost people about Jesus.
God wants to use each of us there where work, live and play. He wants us to help others, because He wants to help them. God wants us to be His hands and feet. Therefore we must be sensitive to the Spirit’s voice like Paul: 21… I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ—but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. Looking back on my life I know that I’ve missed some of these opportunities. I know there were times when God wanted me to help others, but I was simply too busy living life, too deaf to hear His voice.
There are many people out there who have also struggled to see the light. Maybe it would be good to step into their shoes again and to experience how lost one can feel. You feel so alone with little hope for the future. We have the answer. We know how easy it is to accept Jesus as your Saviour, but for them it’s not so easy.
Be sensitive to the Spirit’s guidance and know that God wants to use you to make a difference in other people’s lives. Allow the passion to work for God’s Kingdom drive you and do what God wants you to do there where you live, work and play.
Where do you have to step into another person’s shoes?
What do you have to do there?
What do you have to say there?
Father, sometimes I wonder why You trust me so much to make a difference in the world. I know that You can hit a straight shot with a crooked stick like me. Please help me to have the courage to use my gifts to make a difference where You want me to do so. Please help me to be sensitive to the way other people think and act. Amen