A Willingness to Set Aside Your Own Interests

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Don’t I ever get a vote?  Why do we always have to do what the newbies want to do?

Ever get an earful when you suggest a more inclusive church-wide campaign?  Or hear about it when you announce at the small group connection that the new groups will be studying something pretty basic?

What’s your response?  Have you ever caved in and used a study you knew wouldn’t get it done?

Perhaps the greatest challenge in small group ministry is to get clarity on who you’re trying to connect.  I wrote about it right here in part two of my series “If I Was Starting Today.”  Right on it’s heels is the challenge of holding firmly to your convictions about the interests of the people you’re trying to connect.

While I wrote about this in Preoccupied with the Needs and Interests of the Right People, I didn’t write about what is sometimes the greater challenge: cultivating a willingness (in your congregation) to set aside their own interests (for the sake of the people who don’t have what they need).

Can I tell you something?  If you want to connect beyond the usual suspects, if you want to connect people at crowd’s edge…you’ll need to help your congregation develop the willingness to set aside their own interests for the sake of the people that don’t have what they need.

Lest you think this is a new challenge, in Philippians 2:3-4 Paul urges the people in the church at Philippi,

“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”

Our congregation’s natural inclination is to look out for their own interests.  Our natural inclination is to look out for our own interests.  It’s not new.  It’s not abnormal.  It’s extremely common.  But if you want to connect people at crowd’s edge…you’ll have to help your congregation see the big picture clearly.

The Four Lepers

One of the best stories in the Bible on a willingness to set aside your own interests is found in 2 Kings 6:24-7:11.  It’s the story of the four lepers outside the walls of the city under siege.  I’ve mentioned this story before in my sample host recruiting message right here.  Essentially, although they had little to gain personally, they felt convicted to share their great good fortune with the very same people who had kept them from entering the city.

Finding the Aramean camp deserted and the enemy’s abundant food and supplies abandoned, the four men ate and drank and carried off treasure, until their consciences got the better of them.

“This is not right,” they said.  “This is a day of good news, and we aren’t sharing it with anyone!  If we wait until morning, some calamity will certainly fall upon us.  Come on, let’s go back and tell the people at the palace.”

Can’t Both Needs Be Met?

Short answer?  Absolutely.  It is possible to provide opportunities for everyone.  It’s possible.  But can I tell you what I’ve found?  It’s far more important to do everything you can to instill in your congregation a heart that says, “No really, let’s meet your needs first.”

Isn’t this really the lesson of Philippians 2:5-8?

You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
Though he was God,
he did not think of equality with God
as something to cling to.
Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
he took the humble position of a slave
and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form,
he humbled himself in obedience to God
and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

What do you think?  Want to argue?  Got a question? You can click here to jump into the conversation.

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