Compassionately Serving in a Messy World

“Compassion is born when we discover in the center of our own existence not only that God is God and man is man, but also that our neighbor is really our fellow man.” Henri J Nouwen shares this thought in his book “The Wounded Healer,” reminding us that compassion is birthed from a recognition of others as our neighbor. When Jesus commands to “love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31),” we’re reminded that our neighbors are all of those around us, regardless of religion, background, socio-economic status, and life choices. So, how do we go about serving our fellow man who may not always look like us, think like us, or live like us? How do we step into often “messy” work of helping others?

Caring Network has compassionately served women and their partners who are experiencing unplanned pregnancy for almost 40 years. By coming alongside them in the midst of their difficult circumstances, we provide nonjudgmental support and free services, empowering them to choose life. This work is accomplished through the support and prayers of our individual and church partners. To find out more about how to participate in what God is doing at Caring Network, reach out to us today!

Why Should We Compassionately Serve Others?

By loving those around us, we are fulfilling God’s will for our lives.  Jesus said the greatest commandment was to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” And just right behind it, the second is to “love your neighbor as yourself.” He even went so far as to say that “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matthew 22:34-40) Everything that has ever been uttered by God as a mandate for His people rests on the foundation of these two commands. Loving others is not just a request. It’s a pillar of our faith as Christians.

If we love others, then we are compelled to serve them. To think of them as better than ourselves. To intervene in the midst of difficulties or challenges. To better their lives.  This is an act of worship to God – a way to give Him praise and honor.

Brother Lawrence, in the book “The Practice of the Presence of God” shares, “Never tire of doing even the smallest things for Him, because He isn’t impressed so much with the dimensions of our work as the love in which it is done.”

How Do we Practically Serve Others with Compassion?

Knowing why we ought to serve is wonderful, but it doesn’t equip us fully for the task at hand. If our service is an overflow of our love for God and others, how do we go about doing it?

1. Don’t be afraid of messes.

Helping others is messy business. They have their own lives, their own sin, their own backgrounds, and influences. Our duty is to serve as God directs – offering it up as an act of worship to God, overflowing with love for our neighbor. Our job is NOT to fix them or to control the outcome. We give of what we have, and we leave the Holy Spirit to do the real work.

This means serving others does not always come in neat packages with a nice little bow. Sometimes the outcome is not what we desired. Sometimes the person we are serving misuses our generosity or is unable to recognize our actions as the gift that it is intended to be. That is ok. In getting into the messiness of life, we show others that we aren’t afraid to meet them where they are at. We hope and pray that our offers of assistance will demonstrate to them that Christ, who walked this earth incarnate, is in our midst today in each act of service.

2. Focus on the process, not the outcome.

In the Bible, when Jesus feeds the multitudes (Matthew 14 & 15), he asked to first collect the food that was available. What were the available resources? Those who were in possession of resources surrendered them. Jesus then broke them and multiplied it all to satisfy the needs of the (rather large) group.

Our mindset should be the same when approaching acts of service. What do I have to give to help meet the needs of those around me? What resources are at my disposal? Then, when I offer those to God, I should acknowledge that the outcome is outside of my control. My meager offering will in no way meet the complete needs of the world I’m in, but who knows how He will choose to multiply it. Regardless, when it’s in His hands, He is able to work miracles.

As Christians, we are called to serve. How we utilize our time, resources, energy, gifts, and talents are up to us. Will you choose to offer them to God to be multiplied for His kingdom?

Caring Network offers many opportunities to join in our life-saving work. Through prayer, volunteering, and partnering with us, you can help more women encounter Christ-centered, compassionate care.  Women are offered love, mercy, and grace through the services and support provided at each of our six centers. Learn more about how you can be a part of our mission today!