I’m a list maker. A good day is when I get ten things done by noon. Boom. Boom. Boom. A couple of zoom calls. Some emails. Phone call check-ins. A load of laundry or two. There’s a deep sense of accomplishment when I conquer The List.
Jesus didn’t die for my lists though. Jesus died for people and our relationships with each other.
And relationships take time. No boom, boom, boom.
I’m on the planning team for a secular national conference in 2022 and on the design team for my denomination’s next General Assembly and I offered (a very weak) opening drive at the Pastor’s Masters Golf Tournament on Easter Monday. And I serve 93 congregations in North Carolina as their General Presbyter. Every one of these roles is about relationships.
Yes, there are lists of duties to check off as we plan for conferences and assemblies. But our work is mostly about relationships.
Dr. Eddie Moore, the Executive Director of the The Privilege Institute sent out an email yesterday to those of us planning the 2022 White Privilege Conference in Charlotte reminding us that:
“If we’re not working on relationships, we’re not organizing/planning the WPC/WPS.“*
Relationship building is not a marketing strategy. It’s about human and divine bonding.
When we enter our local diner, we could just order coffee, pay the bill, and leave with our delicious beverage. Or we could remember the server’s name and address them by name next time. We could notice them and connect with them if the opportunity arises. I’m a Myers-Briggs Introvert and still I need to do this. It builds community in my neighborhood.
If we don’t know the names of people in our local community – the person who delivers our mail or the one behind the cash register at the grocery store – why not? Do we notice the people sitting alone? Do we notice the dog walkers? The bikers? The homeless guy on the bench?
I’m not saying we should walk up to strangers and invite them to become our new best friends. I’m talking about paying attention to people. Notice their faces, their book, their t-shirt. I was in one of my local coffee spots yesterday and there was a new person behind the counter where I placed my order. “Hot mocha.” And the manager who was also behind the counter said, “She likes it extra hot.” He had remembered. Made my day.
We in the Church mess up a lot. We try to help where no help is needed and we fail to help when suffering is obvious. It’s easier to talk incessantly about strategies and schedules than talking about our own brokenness or the brokenness of our community.
Jesus died to bring resurrection to each of us. And when we get that, we want to share that possibility with others. But we have to work on relationships first. And it takes time. But it’s so worth it in terms of changing the world for good. We can’t really follow our calling if we don’t want to know the people we are called to serve alongside. Have a warm and meaningful Wednesday.
Image is of LaChrista at one of my favorite coffee places. She goes by LC.
*WPC/WPS are The White Privilege Conference and the White Privilege Symposium. Check them out here.