…For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. ESV Mark 6:31
Jesus modeled loving people. During His ministry, He faced seasons with His disciples when there were so many people to minister to they didn’t have time to eat. As an extrovert, I generally thrive on people. However, even extroverts can face people exhaustion. When we grow weary of working with people, we need to remind ourselves Jesus and His disciples faced the same challenges. While Jesus encouraged His disciples to go boating and take time for themselves, they immediately faced more people when they returned to shore. Because of His love for people, we can expect our growing spiritual formation to result in increasing numbers of encounters with people.
Yesterday both exhilarated and exhausted me. I spent 11 hours with people, moving from appointment to appointment. Today looks to be the same. While we all have different personalities and callings, I do believe the spiritual formation process will increasingly draw people to us. As we become more like Christ, two things will happen. First, we will be less self-focused and more others focused. We will be more loving. We will more naturally care for others and desire to pour into them. Secondly, as we more perfectly reflect the love of Christ, others will be drawn to us. People are seeking answers, seeking love, seeking direction. When they see these things in us, they will probe us to determine how they might find this same life for themselves.
While we definitely have to take time to recharge (and other posts address this), we should be encouraged when we find ourselves exhausted with people. Whether that involves working with our kids all day during the summer, or meeting with clients at work, or touching lives through social media, these interactions open doors for the gospel. Jesus’ love for others should radically create within us a similar passion for people (again, reflected through our personalities…introverts will have a craving for fewer yet deeper relationships, extroverts will crave numerous relationships, etc.). While being surrounded by people can wear on us, and even take our eyes off Christ, we should realize the solution is to cling more closely to Christ, not to run away from people and ministry. May you love on people today, even if you don’t have time to eat!