I am hardly the type of person that anyone would ask to write about loving others. I have a tendency to be selfish and self-centered. But thankfully this doesn’t completely stop me from loving others, at least I hope not.
My wife and I have owned a business in the service industry for about 20 years. We have been through so many ups and downs and have had many employees come through our doors. When it comes to loving the least, I would say that our business is the mission field for us. Often times it feels that as we try, and as we help people, there seems to be very little in return. It is extremely important to us to create an environment of belonging, to be a part of a team, a family. This is something that tends to make people feel very uncomfortable.
Of course, loving the least would include many things like feeding the homeless, fostering, serving the elderly, and many more things, but we wanted to share what we have experienced in the workplace. I believe one of the most important things to look at when it comes to loving the least is being aware of the needs of the people around you. Loving the least is a call to not turn a blind eye when you are confronted with someone in need. This reality permeates our entire existence, and the amazing and almost inconceivable thing is that when we live in the capacity of loving the least, God sees it like we are doing it for Him.
"I believe one of the most important things to look at when it comes to loving the least is being aware of the needs of the people around you."
There’s a specific story that always comes to our minds when we reflect on how we have tried to love someone and they just couldn’t accept it.
We had a new guy start with us, we’ll call him William for privacy purposes. William hadn’t been with us long before he called in to work one day and said that his daughter had been admitted to the hospital.
He was of course given the day off of work and told to take care of his family. Her medical situation turned more severe and he needed more time off of work. He was granted that time and that’s when we felt that we needed to do something. I took my family to the store and we put together a care package for her to help pass the time in the hospital. Our microchurch took it upon themselves to put together a basket with goodies and gift cards that our employees even contributed to.
With all the time he was missing from work without any PTO yet because he hadn’t been with us long enough to be eligible for it, we gave him some cash to help pay for bills and such. All this took place over about a 4 week period. Once the medical ordeal was over he came back to work and quit effective immediately; he didn’t really give a reason. He said he needed some time, which we were offering to grant him, but he wouldn’t accept it. He said we’d done enough and he left.
That was really hard for us. I remember feeling very upset and not able to understand the outcome and the events that led up to it. I thought we were helping, we were trying to love him, not just financially but also by checking in on him and his family. It almost made me want to stop doing for our employees because I didn’t want to push anyone else away, if that’s in fact what happened here, it certainly felt like it.
The fact is that some people are uncomfortable and unfamiliar with acts of kindness and the family culture that we attempt to create and it makes them runaway. Others see an opportunity to take advantage of kindness and generosity, remain at arms-length and unwilling to be trustworthy. There have been several occasions that we’ve given an employee many chances to step up to the plate, sometimes to the detriment of our business, just hoping and praying that they’ll change and this time will be different. We tell ourselves that we won’t do that again but then someone comes along and we make concessions...again.
I only share these experiences so others can be encouraged. I think most Christians have an image of what it looks like to love and to serve. My wife and I used to be a part of one of the local mega churches. We were heavily involved in volunteering during the weekend services. But afterwards you felt good about what you did, the situation, the people, and the work. It felt rewarding. I have to say, with being outside of that setting for almost 2 years now, the truth is that most of what we do does not feel rewarding. It feels hard, exhausting, pointless, and so small and minuscule in the big picture of God and His Kingdom. We keep telling ourselves that it is not supposed to be easy but sometimes we’re just ready to give up.
"I have to say, with being outside of that [mega church] setting for almost 2 years now, the truth is that most of what we do does not feel rewarding. It feels hard, exhausting, pointless, and so small and minuscule in the big picture of God and His Kingdom."
And the truth is, it’s very hard to repeatedly get hurt while trying to love people and choose to continue to pursue it. This, however, does not make us give up the pursuit of creating a loving environment around us and helping when we see a need. The outcome we hope for and our present reality always seems so far from each other. Which in many times, is very discouraging. But Jesus says, “follow me and die”, so that is what we will continue to pursue. Because our lives are not supposed to be our own. We are called to assist in bringing the Kingdom here on Earth as it is in Heaven.