How to Serve the People Around You
[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Hailey Hudson. After our recent post by Britney Christian Miller on ministry work overseas, I thought this was a great follow-up! Many of us aren’t able to actually travel, but we can serve right at home!]
I went on my first mission trip—a week-long excursion to Florida—when I was four years old, and I was immediately hooked.
Brought up in a Christian home with a dad who worked closely with missionaries from all over the world, I understood the importance of sharing Christ with the world. I went on my first international mission trip when I was thirteen, and I fell in love with the country of Colombia. I decided that I wanted to be a missionary someday, after college.
But eventually the thought occurred to me: what about now?
I was only in Colombia one week out of each year—what about the other fifty-one weeks that I spent in my hometown?
As high school continued, many days I felt that I was just surviving. I was checking off everything on my to-do list, but I didn’t think I was truly making a difference; I didn’t feel that I was loving and serving others as much as I could. I spent much of my time daydreaming about Colombia and not focusing on the people in front of me. As soon as I became aware of that, things started to change. Here are four big things that have helped me in my journey to show love to others around me in my everyday life.
Pray and then keep your eyes open.
Recently, I had gotten to work early and was spending some time in prayer. Somewhat idly, I asked that God would give me opportunities to share Jesus with others. Then I moved on with my life and forgot I’d ever prayed about it. Thirty minutes later, someone whom I knew for a fact was not a Christian asked me a question about Jesus. We had a great conversation centered around the fact that the only way to get to heaven is Jesus—something I don’t think she had ever heard before. I had goosebumps at how quickly God worked. Now, my prayers for opportunities to love others are much more genuine.
Saturate yourself in Scripture and pray for opportunities every morning. Then, wherever your day takes you—to class, to the grocery store, out to lunch with a friend—simply keep your eyes open.
Don’t count out the little things.
One day I got a text from a friend saying, “Hey, just a friendly reminder that I love you and I’m praying for you lots.” It probably took her all of twenty seconds to type out that sentence and hit send, but it absolutely made my day—in fact, it nearly had me in tears. Many people tend to think that if they aren’t in an impoverished country telling drug addicts about Christ, they aren’t doing missions. But this is absolutely not true. The little things often turn out to be the biggest things in the eyes of the recipient.
1 Thessalonians 5:11a, NIV—“Therefore encourage each other and build one another up.”
Play to your strengths.
What gifts—whether in the form of talents or of material possessions like money—has God given you that you can use to bless others? Maybe you work at a restaurant, and you can get gift cards at a discount to give to homeless people. Maybe you’ve always enjoyed writing letters, and you have a friend who is going through a rough time and could really use some encouragement. Maybe you make the best banana bread anyone has ever tasted, and you can take some to your new neighbors and invite them to church. Think about your strengths and then utilize them.
Take the initiative.
I recently read an article on GirlDefined.com that really had an impact on me. “4 Creative Ways to Love and Minister to Other Girls,” by Kristen Clark, says that someone has to take the first step in creating a relationship. Instead of sitting back and waiting for the other person, go up, talk to them, and initiate that friendship yourself. Kristen’s article shares helpful tips on everything from throwing parties at your house to inviting a friend to have coffee with you and asking her how you can pray for her. As Nike would say—just do it! “Practicing Hospitality Before You Have a Home of Your Own” by Bethany Baird discusses this a bit more, and you can find many practical ideas on how to love others here and here on the Lies Young Women Believe site.
The bottom line here is this: don’t fall into the trap of thinking that missions can only be done overseas in third-world countries. Don’t spend so much time longing to be in another country (as I have and, admittedly, still do) that you overlook the people God has placed right under your nose in your humdrum everyday life—your coworkers, neighbors, friends, even your waitress when you go out to eat.
Hailey Hudson is a high school senior who lives in the mountains of North Georgia. She’s a writer, voiceover artist, and a nanny; she also plays travel softball. Most importantly, Hailey loves Jesus and wants to show His love to as many people as possible. You can find more of her writing at https://haileyhudson.wordpress.com/.