A New Breath of Life
by Mark Lubbock
One of the things that breathes life into me is conversation with folks who see from a point of view that differs from mine.
Listening to them explain life as they see it helps me get out of my own head and begin to once again embrace and enjoy the diversity of God’s creation.
Not long ago I visited a technology retailer for information on a product I owned. The young lady who waited on me was clearly more drawn towards talking with fellow employees than serving customers. She glanced at the Christian shirt I was wearing so she could make some guesses of her own about me. Initially she was distant, businesslike, and seemed a bit disinterested in her work. I felt like I was just another customer she needed to get out the door. So I started a conversation, taking this as an opportunity to learn a little about her. Stating that I use my device in ministry, I paused and asked if she had any thoughts on spirituality. She was quick to reply that organized religion is a major problem in our country and she wants nothing to do with it. Nodding my head to indicate I am listening, I followed up by asking what works for her in place of organized religion. Her reply was along the lines of “I believe in God and don’t need church. I have my own private spiritual life.”
No surprise there of course, since this is a common theme with folks who are not interested in traditional church. What I saw as she shared though, was a
hint of thinly veiled anger. Not directed towards me, but seeming to arise from the thoughts going through her mind as she formed her statement about church.
As I listened to her sometimes harsh criticisms of religion, she started to relax that professional mask, allowing me to see the real person. The more I listened with interest, the more she opened up (versus rebutting her comments and telling her my thoughts.) When it became clear that I was not taking any ‘sides’ in the topic, but just wanted to hear her thoughts, we were able to finally have a true discussion.
What developed was a simple conversation where I spoke of how my life was measurably better due to my relationship with Jesus, and she spoke of wounds she received from the “Church.” At the end of my transaction and the conclusion of our conversation, I asked if I could pray for her before leaving. Her head snapped back for just a second and her eyes watered a little. She simply nodded her head “yes” indicating my prayer for her was welcomed. I thanked God for the meeting and for the chance to get to know her, asking for grace and blessings upon her life. The prayer was closed with a request that Jesus would touch her heart with a sign of love and favor, easing any pain and bringing her peaceful joy. By then the waterworks were in full display. As I left, I continued the prayer asking God to lead her to a church environment where His love is LIVED OUT DAILY.
Clearly, the church universal has not successfully communicated Jesus to this
young woman, which leads me to think about “outcomes.” Most churches want to reach outside their walls and touch lives with Jesus. Yet few ever bother to measure the effectiveness of the routine life of the church. How would you assess the outcome of your church in reaching the lost, the lonely, the hurting?
I’ve learned that the Holy Spirit offers frequent course corrections all along the journey of life. As we seek to draw close personally to Jesus, I know we’ll also encounter opportunities to look at others through His eyes and allow him to use our hands to share His love.
Mark just celebrated 20 years of marriage with his bride Vickie Lubbock. He served as a pastor with the United Methodist Church for over 15 years before coming on staff with the General Commission on United Methodist Men where he currently serves as Deployed Staff. He was the first pastor in the nation to become a “Certified Men’s Ministry Specialist” through the GCUMM and Vanderbilt University. Mark sits as the C.E.o. of the regional non-profit men’s ministry “Gulf South Men” headquartered in Baton Rouge, serving Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas. Gulf South Men supports churches and men’s groups in making disciples of Jesus through coaching, events, training, studies and small group formation. Mark is the Regional Director for “Iron Sharpens Iron” which is the nation’s largest ministry to men through regional equipping men’s conferences. Mark formerly served as Regional Director with Promise Keepers supporting regional conferences.