Feed my sheep
"Feed my sheep..." John 21.17
Larry Crabb is a Christian psychologist with a passion for peeling back the institutional layers of church life to rediscover the relational heart of our faith. Not for nothing did Jesus eschew business plans in favour of personal encounters. So, what will it take wean us off our obsession with structures and into engaging with real people?
Crabb offers three pithy words of advice: Aim high, bend low, take risks. I interpret that to mean that we abandon superficiality in our relationships and, respectfully of course, get to know each other at our deeper levels. Explore what makes us tick? That involves taking time, listening intently, being available. And it may well take us out of our comfort zones - a long way.
That's the easy bit. What does this look like in real life. For me it involves getting out of my study on a regular basis. For a season in my life I joined a select military unit and went through their training so I could deploy with them, sharing their dangers and many hours of boredom in between. On the positive side it gave me privileged access to their hopes and fears and, in the process, I came away with friends for life. Since then I have been finding other ways to get alongside people.
Please don't imagine that I am holding myself up as an example to follow. As often as I succeed, I fail. I succumb to laziness, lose my nerve, cause offence, shrink from opportunities &c. I am simply sharing my flawed response to Jesus' call. His is the example to follow. Yet we can still exhort one another by sharing our experience and giving each other a hand up when we fall.