Ahhhh, back to school time. That bittersweet annual season that has the party people mourning the end of spontaneous fun and the Type A folks celebrating the return of routine (Enneagram 7s and 1s, I'm looking at you).
A cool thing about the start of a new school year is that it's a fresh start in lots of areas of life, and each brings opportunities to grow in community (see, fun-loving folks...the party isn't over!). New houses are bought and sold to get settled before school starts, bringing new neighbors to get to know. Many people get back to regular church attendance or start attending church for the first time, bringing new individuals to welcome and befriend. School itself brings with it new classmates, teachers, sports seasons, clubs, PTA groups, etc., giving us lots of chances to engage, encourage, and bring the light of Christ into the spaces we inhabit.
We often think of a missionary as someone who goes far away to share the Gospel. But each one of us has been placed by God in a community and given spheres of influence like the ones I talked about above. Sure, some of us are being called to go far away. But we know that because of God's immense love for each person He created, we are all being called to bring that love to the people around us, right where He has placed us.
Full disclosure: I am a huge work in progress in this area. I don't have it mastered. These things I'm sharing are truths I know from God's Word, but am still working to implement in my own life.
I am always challenged when I enter into new relationships or new community spaces... am I going to just hang out and take up space, or am I going to intentionally look for ways to bring light with me? I'm what I call an "outgoing introvert" (and a 9, since we were talking Enneagram), so the temptation to "just be" is STROOOONG. I know there are times when we all need to be low-key, but I also have a tendency to just roll into a new situation or group of people and only realize later, "Hey, this was an opportunity to shine the light of Christ where it might not otherwise be. Really should have done something with that."
Something I'm challenging myself to do as we enter this new school season is to take time to think and pray intentionally about how God would have me bring light to the groups I find myself in. Whether it's a teacher conference, a volunteer meeting at church, a sports practice, there are always opportunities. Could I remember to follow up with someone and ask how that tough situation is going in their lives? Could I bring cookies to a neighbor as a surprise? Could I write a quick note to the coach or piano teacher saying I appreciate how they're pouring into my kids' lives? Could I invite that new family at church out to lunch?
Wouldn't it be great if the kids in our lives saw us modeling this kind of love and care to the people around us...not only on special occasions, but in everyday life? Wouldn't it be great if the community around us saw Christians bringing love, care and joy into the spaces we find ourselves in?
I love these products for our homes that help communicate the message that we are ready to welcome people into our lives...I hope they will inspire you too!