Focused on Others

Read:  Philippians 2:1-11

This past Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. day in the U.S.. To commemorate MLK and that day my wife had her 3rd grade class talk about his famous “I have a dream” speech. She then had them write out what their dreams are and posted them on the classroom door.  I went to her classroom the other day and was impressed by what I saw.  Yes, there were a few that made mention of an NBA career or other things for themselves, but many of them were about their dreams to help others and make a difference in our world.  Here are some of their dreams….

“I have a dream that everyone will have a home.”
“I have a dream to help people at the nursing home.”
“I have a dream to find a cure for cancer.”
“I have a dream that everybody would be treated with kindness.”
“I have a dream to give flowers to all the people in the hospital.”
“I have a dream to be a doctor and help people with their lives.”

Even at the young age of 8 or 9 these children understand the importance of dreaming for others as well as themselves.  In Philippians 2 we are encouraged to… “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking down to your own interests but each of you to the interest of others.”  How refreshing it was to see these children thinking in that way.

Many times we can show our care and concern for others just by listening to them and hearing their stories.  This kind of listening (and his own experiences) is what drove Martin Luther King Jr. to be so passionate about civil rights.  His dreams were mostly focused on the future children and those who would come after him, not on himself.

I once heard a story called “The Lament.” It is a simple story about an old man who drives a horse and buggy for hire through the city.  The story goes that the old man’s son died recently and he wants so desperately to tell someone. A wealthy man hires the horse and buggy for a ride across town. As the wealthy man steps into the carriage, the old man says, “My son, my son. Let me tell you about my son.” But the busy man doesn’t have time to listen.

Well, after the wealthy man leaves, another man steps into the carriage. He wants to be driven to the other side of the city. Again, the old man says, “My son. My son. Let me tell you about my son.” And again, this second man also doesn’t bother to listen.  At the end of the day, the old man returns to the stables, unhitched his horse, and as he begins to brush the horse down for the night, the old man begins to tell the horse, “My son. My son.” And he tells the horse the tragic story.

My prayer this week is that the example of Jesus Christ, the passion of Martin Luther King Jr., and the inspiration of these 3rd grade students might encourage all of us to show care and concern for others.  To listen to their needs, struggles, and hopes and truly care about them.  I end with one of my favorite MLK quotes of which there are many…. “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”  May those words guide our life and our actions daily!

Make it Personal:  What would you write if you were asked to write a conclusion to the statement “I have a dream…?”  Would it be a dream that is focused on others?  Philippians 2:5 has a very powerful reminder for us.  It says this, “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.”

Have a great week everyone, Glen Rhodes, Arthur Mennonite Church