Seeing people, not just seeing people.

Who let this kid in here?

A few years ago we were at the airport in Boston on our way to visit family in Wisconsin and Minnesota.  In the gate area was a couple with a young kid.  Naturally, this young kid noticed our boys playing with their cars on the floor and made an effort to be noticed.  On one of us was wearing a shirt that said “Cape Cod” on it.  Trying to make conversation, the man said to us, “oh, were you just vacationing there?”  We replied, “no, we live there.”  To my surprise the guy said, “oh” and abruptly walked away.

More recently we were at a beach during the summer months.  We prefer the beaches on Cape Cod Bay because they are calmer for the kids.  Plus, when the tide is low you are able to let the kids run through all the tidal pools and not worry about them drowning.  We are not from here originally, so we sort of look like tourists.  On this day a lady from out-of-state said something to us.  Wouldn’t you know it, she asked, “so, where are you from?”  Our reply, “Oh, we live just up the road in town here.”  Again, the response was, “oh” and the conversation ended.

When I go to youth conferences, it will say on my name tag that I am from Cape Cod.  I don’t know how many people will make a comment about the mansion I supposedly live in.  I do not live in a mansion and my neighbors don’t either.  I know it might shock some people but there are homeless people on Cape Cod.  There are many people who struggle to make ends meet and ask for help.  I know this because I have talked with them when they have come to the church asking for help.  There are broken homes, broken people and the same sorts of depravity people face in every other place in the world.  But, because so many view it as a vacation destination, people who live here must be on a never-ending vacation.

People have their ideas about just about everything, whether they actually know the truth or not.  When people ask me what I do, I don’t immediately tell them I am a pastor because sometimes that can be a conversation killer.  I will tell them that I work with youth and will ease my way to the actual title.  The reason is there are so many preconceived notions about what a pastor is.

This happens too often with people.  How often do people go out of their way to avoid someone because of how they look?  How much is assumed about someone just because of what family they come from or what they do for a living?  But, do we take the time to find out?

Everyone has a story to tell

Everyone has a story to tell and they will tell it, if you ask.  I have had kids come to youth group who have had some very rough lives.  They look like they have had rough lives and they talk like it.   Do we avoid them?  Absolutely not!  We talk with them, ask them questions and help them see that people do care more about who they are than how they look.

Take the story, from Luke 19, of Zacchaeus as an example of this.  We know that Zacchaeus was a tax collector and was wealthy.  The truth of it was that he probably wasn’t all that honest and he probably wasn’t liked.  In fact, the community at large probably just wrote him off as some no good criminal.  But, there was more to him than that.  Jesus was going to bring salvation to his home and he would be completely changed.

Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost – Luke 19:9-10

That’s what Jesus does for us.  He doesn’t look at us and judge us because our hair is too long or we have the wrong type of clothing on.  Jesus looks at each person as a valuable person for whom he came to give eternal life.  It doesn’t matter if you are from Cape Cod or Hawaii, God sent Jesus to save and seek the lost.  That means all of the lost, not just the ones that look the way we think they should.  That means that people who have different worldviews or who have more money than you matter to God.

You see, I think we need to make a greater effort to not make up our mind before we even meet someone.  Part of the adventure of each day could be the new people you will meet.  And, just maybe, God wants to use you to bring salvation to the home of someone.  I know I don’t want to miss that and the person ready to receive it will be glad you obeyed!

Time to see people and to stop just seeing people. 

Leadership Lessons from Deuteronomy 32

Today I thought I would do something completely different.  Over the last few years, I have developed a “spiritual formation” activity for my student leadership team.  I thought maybe I would share this year’s here, with the hope that it might be of use to others.  I have taken out youth group specific items to make it more useful to a wider audience.

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Leadership Lessons from Deuteronomy 32
For Leadership Teams
Rev. Derek Mansker

What is this?

Leadership is about more than just showing up and having an up front presence.  Leadership is actually about having a heart that loves Jesus Christ and wants to lead others to do the same.  This activity is shorter than years past, but still will help you look inward at God’s specific work in your life.  Our example for what it means to be a leader comes from Jesus Christ.

How do I do this?

Your assignment is simply to read the verses indicated and interact with them in the context of your life.  Please do not just fill in the blanks to get it done.  Take some time with it, think about it and write down things that truly meant something to you.

“You will never become a servant leader until you become a servant to the Leader”  – Gene Wilkes

This activity is about getting closer to our leader, Jesus Christ.


Leadership – Starting right – “Am I spiritually healthy?”

Deuteronomy 32:2-6, 46-47

This section is about looking inward.  To be spiritually healthy is to love God and love others.  Jesus said, “Whoever has My commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves Me.  He who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I too will love him and show Myself to him.”  – John 14:21

The things you say and do indicate what is going on in your life.  Jesus also said, “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” Matthew 12:34

In fact, there is a progression to sin.  Read James 1:13-15 – What is the progression?

Read: Deuteronomy 32:2-6, 46-47

V2 – What does this verse say about the affects of this teaching?

V3-4- What do these verses say about God?

V5-6- What has happened?

V46-47 –  What does this tell us about God’s Word and obedience toward it?

If you are not spiritually healthy, you will not be obeying God’s Word.  The longer you stay there, the worse things become.  The people Moses are talking to here are no different than you are.  They had times when they were excited about God’s work in their midst and they had times when they forgot.  They even went so far as to create their own gods to worship instead of God.

How are you doing spiritually?  Why do you say that?

What has happened to direct you to the place you are at?  (i.e. hardship, questions, doubts, family problems, indifference to God etc.)

“If all you have to offer are words, few people will follow you.  Your example will give them a picture of what you are talking about.” Gene Wilkes — What picture are you giving?


Leadership – Seeing Other Believers- “Am I loving people here?”

Deuteronomy 32:8-14

This section is about looking inward and also outward.  In the context of this youth ministry, it is essential to love God and love others.  That starts right here with people who show up each week.  Jesus said, ““A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34-35

We need to be aware of the people around us.  That means walking away from situations that are comfortable and walking into more awkward scenarios.  It means putting yourself in someone else’s place and trying to meet them where they are at.

Read: Deuteronomy 32:8-14

V8-9 – How does the Lord view His people?

V10-11- What do these verses say about God’s work on behalf of His people?

V12- What is significant about this verse?

God has cared for his people during some difficult times in the desert.  He had set them free from their captivity and had led them to the place they were in.  He had provided for them, listened to their needs, and showed patience with them.  This is very similar to what we are called to do as ministry leaders.

What are you doing to meet the needs of people around you?

How do you view people?  (i.e. are you a people person, do people annoy you etc.)

When someone irritates you, how do you treat them?  Is it right? Why?

Leadership – Seeing the Lost – “Am I loving people out there?

Deuteronomy 32:15-18, 36-38

This section is about looking at how you are ministering to people you know who are not followers of Jesus Christ.  We need to care about those people who do not know Jesus.  This is something that needs to be a part of your daily life wherever you are.  Jesus said, “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents. – Luke 15:9

Read: Deuteronomy 32:15-18, 36-38

V15-18 – What happened to the people?

V 15-18 – How is this similar to what people who don’t know Jesus are doing today?

V 36-38-   What is at stake when people choose to worship other things and reject God?

In a world where people are afraid to offend others, are we willing to take the risk and share the Gospel with people who need to hear?  In other words, if your friends don’t follow Jesus does it concern you?  Why?

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I pray this encourages you and challenges you wherever you have influence.  God’s Word provides us with so much for daily life.  I hope that sharing this unique post will be useful to you.

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Referenced Book: Gene Wilkes, Jesus on Leadership (Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, 1998)