‘Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.’ – Colossians 3.12From Sam Lomas:
I love to people watch. I could quite happily sit in a café on the high street and watch people going about their business. But more recently, the interesting thing is that we have all had to become people watchers. I wonder, have you found yourself getting frustrated with people yet? I know I have.
Every church camp or mission trip I have either lead or been on has been at risk of a common pitfall. The issue is that as time goes on and people get tired, levels of irritation increase, often leading to outbursts of frustration and annoyance. At it’s worst, these moments can cause huge upset. At it’s best, we can laugh about them months later seeing how the Lord actually used them to bring us closer together.
Recently, we have entered into a new phase of recovery from lockdown. With the introduction of stricter requirements to wear face coverings across many indoor locations, including our church building, this new phase has the potential to cause each of us irritation. I’m not just talking about the irritation to our faces as we get used to wearing something many have never worn before. But also, the irritation of seeing how others do and, sadly, often do not, observe social distancing and face covering requirements correctly. I’d like to give some advice from the perspective of the mission trip leader / youth camp coordinator.
When irritation comes; increase your levels of grace.
I’d often do a pre-trip briefing for leaders. A key instruction I give is that, as we begin to get irritated by one another, we must show increased levels of grace where it is needed. This means that when someone annoys you, show them grace. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Assume the best of them. Be slow to point the finger. Quick to listen.
Colossians 3.12 is embedded around teaching on what Christians should do now that they are living a new life following Jesus’ way. I love how Paul combines these five attributes and instructs the follower of Jesus to clothe themselves in each one.
I believe these five attributes are attributes of grace. If we choose (with the Lord’s help) in the coming months to live our lives based around these attributes then, I am certain, we will see a big change in our lives and the lives of those we interact with.
To finish, as we plod onwards through this unusual time, here are some suggestions of things to be careful not to do and some things to be proactive in doing.
Be careful not to:
- Not to fall victim to the trap of judgmentalism.
- Not to create kangaroo courts when people break the rules.
- Not to lose your sight of eternal matters, issues of the heart.
- Not to elevate your self-righteousness above others.
Be proactive in:
- Being a person of grace. Be “compassionate, kind, humble, gentle and patient” (Col 3.12).
- Following social distancing measures and other COVID 19 recovery measures.
- Praying for our church members who are finding this time especially difficult.
- Remembering that many disabilities are hidden.