I was listening to a radio show on my way home from work a few months ago. And it has impacted me in tremendous ways. Our attitude toward certain scenarios, the way we approach things, can drastically change the outcome of the situation. The book that was being discussed on the radio show was about forming “Mom friendships” (the author and book escape me a the moment. *So sorry!*). The author described how she changed her outlook from “here I am” to “there you are”….and everything changed.
What if we take the logic she applied to mom friendships (for good reason) and apply it to church congregations. Our flesh naturally gravitates toward a “here I am” attitude, in other words, simply put, “It’s all about me.” Here I am – what can you do for me? But God, throughout scripture, requires a servant heart, or an others-first attitude – “There you are.” There you are – what can I do for you?
The Church is far from perfect. And I know that’s because we’re all still on the journey to “figuring it all out” and each one of us is at a different point in that journey. However, I think a lot of the issues within the Church would be alleviated if everyone of us, every day (whether a worship service or board meeting), would come with a “There you are” attitude instead of “Here I am.” Our view from the church pew could drastically change.
Let me give you a couple of examples of the difference:
Here I am. I walk in the room, find my place, and take a seat. I wait for you to come talk to me. I notice when you don’t walk over to me and say hello. I am offended that you haven’t taken the time and made the effort to come see me. You didn’t even ask me why I wasn’t here last week. Why didn’t you ask me about what was going on in my life? I feel so excluded.
There you are. I walk in the room and look for someone to greet. *Friendly Smile* How are you today? Let me get up and come over and say hello to you. How can I help you today? I noticed you have been really busy and wanted to let you know how appreciated you are. I missed getting a chance to talk to you last week, I could tell you were busy…which is why I came to you this week – anything I can do for you?
Here I am. You aren’t meeting my specific needs. Serve me. I don’t like the music. I don’t like the way that program is run. My ideas aren’t being heard. I never have a chance to do what I think would work. Listen to me. This is the right way. That plan will never work.
There you are. How can I serve today? What can I do to help meet the needs of those around me? I can see your heart for this ministry, it’s overflowing. How can I help that vision become a part of the overall mission? What of my own agenda needs to be set aside for this to work for the greater good? Am I getting in the way or am I letting God move? Have I heard, really heard, the heart of where everyone else is coming from? Am I listening? What is it that would work best for the vision God has given us, even if it isn’t my idea?
Can you imagine if we were all “there you are” people??? Because that’s what we’re called to be! We are called to be servants. We are called to be love. And offense? That’s a tool of the enemy! We choose to be offended.
If we were all “there you are” people, no one would feel outcast or snubbed. We would notice when people were missing for a couple of weeks. We would work for the good of God’s vision, not for the good of ourselves. We would learn to set aside our own agendas and actually listen to those around us. We would forget past biases and approach every day with a clean slate.
The difference between “Here I am” and “There you are” is the difference between someone walking in those doors and someone walking out.
When we choose to follow Christ, we are saying, “It is no longer about me, but about Christ who lives in Me.”
When I start getting frustrated in a church setting, lately, I put my attitude in check and ask myself: Am I approaching this with a “here I am” or “there you are” attitude? A lot of the time, I have to take a couple of steps back. God’s plans are better than mine and I am sick of letting myself get in the way.
The next time I say (or think) “Here I am” it will only be to the Lord, in this sense, “Here I am, Lord, send me.”
His response: “There you are. Where have you been? I’ve been waiting for you to finally figure it out!”