My friend John lives in a community not far from me. Recently they were evacuated due to fires that threatened to jump a barrier and ignite the homes located there.
John posted a picture of the dense smoke around his house on social media as he was leaving. He didn’t ask for prayers for him, his family, or the protection of his house.
Instead he asked for prayers for the firefighters and that there would be no loss of life.
The disaster was averted and John and his family returned home later that day.
Shortly after, my friend Dan went into the hospital for major heart surgery. He is an active member of a megachurch. He and I were discussing an idea he had, and he commented, “Guess how many meals my church friends brought by after I got out of the hospital? Zero.” Dan’s new mission is to connect what faith is to what faith does.
Anne Lamott wrote a the book Help, Thanks, Wow. I suspect the ordering of the words–how she talks to God and ideas for how we can as well–was by frequency of usage. For many of us, the primary reason to approach God it is for help. We’re in a pickle and we don’t have the means to get out so we implore God to save us. It is natural and there is nothing wrong with asking Him for help. But that shouldn’t be all we do.
We need to pray for someone other than ourselves. Like the old cliche says, someone wrapped up in himself makes a very small package.
Whether you are a person of faith or give much thought to it, you’d have a hard time arguing that going from self-focused to other focus isn’t just a sign of maturity and contribution, but a way to make our world a little better. And happily, when we help others we are rewarded, not by recognition and appreciation (although both are nice) but by the act of consideration itself.
As one matures (and many get older without doing that), they realize that we best help (or more correctly glorify God) when we help others. And that’s how John thinks. He prayed for others first.
It is easy to claim to be a person of faith, but that little prayer John prayed? To think of others first? It showed me John isn’t just a person of faith–his is an admirable faith.
Mark Sanborn is an award winning speaker and Leadership Expert in Residence at High Point University, the Premier Life Skills University. For more information about his work, visit www.marksanborn.com. He also teaches professional speakers and leaders how to increase their messaging and public speaking effectiveness. Learn more here.