In John 6 many disciples were leaving Jesus because he had said some hard things, so Jesus turned to his disciples and asked them if they wanted to go, too. Hearing that, Peter asked, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
What a profound statement.
“Why would we go to anything other than a life source?” Pastor Vince of Lakeshore Community Church posed this question last fall, and the question has continued to intrigue me.
Why would I give my time and attention to anything or anyone other than a life source?
Life sources give life and energy to everyone around them. The opposite, black holes of negativity, suck life from everyone who comes in contact with them. People and even organizations (dare I say churches?) can be either life sources or black holes.
It’s a choice.
My dad has always been an encourager, both personally and as a pastor, but several years ago he decided he was going to give life wherever he goes. As a result he does not listen to negative talk without trying to turn it around to a positive perspective. As an elder at his church he challenges people who are resisting authority because those people are sucking life from the pastor. And he is always encouraging me and helping me to dream about what my future could hold.
I want to hang out with him just reading what I am writing. I love my dad. And so does everyone else. The world is his pulpit, and in his wake are people smiling and encouraged by stories, laughs, and prayers.
I am already a bit like my dad in personality, but I have really tried to be more life giving in the past while, and I have noticed how people respond. It’s addictive. I love seeing people light up. People desperately want to be loved, encouraged, and recognized.
Here are a few ways you can become a life source in your world.
1. Always use a person’s name. In the checkout line, grab the person’s name and use it like you have known them all your life. “Hi, Nancy, how’s your day going?” will change you from another customer into the person who took a personal interest. 9 times out of 10 they will brighten up.
2. Ask them what their name means. Only once have I had a person say, “Well, people ask me this a lot. I was born as a result of an affair.” And even then it was an opportunity to encourage her and love on her in a difficult place of her life by talking about how beautiful her name was.
3. Eat chocolate. What?? That’s right. If a person has a tray of candies or something on their desk, if your diet will allow it, take one. That is their way of lightening things up, so you will make them happy by taking one. When I left my job at Lakeshore, the front desk person said, “But who will eat my chocolate?” It made both of us smile.
4. Don’t vomit. When someone asks you, “How are you doing?” don’t vomit your life all over them. They walk away stinking and messy. You don’t have to lie, and you shouldn’t. Have someone else you can talk to about the hard things, and then remind yourself that God is working on your future. As a Christian you can know that “everything works together for good,” even when life is screaming something else.
5. Fill your life with positive input. Refuse to give prominence to black holes. Turn off the gangsta rap (the radio, I mean; if that’s your spouse then you have a different problem) and find something else. No, you don’t have to turn on John Tesh (ugh!). John Ortberg talks about balcony people. Get people in your life who are going to cheer you on and dream for you.
6. Listen, look them in the eye, and ask questions. Be present when another person is talking. One of my biggest challenges over the years has been to bring myself fully into every conversation and not be day dreaming or scheming my cool response. Just be and experience the conversation with your whole being, and the other person will feel validated.
If you are reading this and realizing that you are more of a black hole than a life source, get a trusted friend or counselor and talk it over with them. Get some perspective so that you can begin to change. Your life can be so much better.
How are you going to be a life source today?