I love supporting good causes. Don’t you? I think it’s human nature to want to champion the underdogs, save the world (or at least try), and rally a crowd to beat injustice. My generation especially—us millennial, borderline Gen Z idealists—flock to a good cause. We want to help people. The problem is—where do we start? We all have good intentions, but they’re often not translated into actions.
Let me explain. It’s often easier to text a friend and say we’re praying for them instead of actually taking time to pray for them. It’s easier to share a Facebook post about a good cause to donate to than to actually open our own wallets and give. Often, we love the idea of going on a mission trip, but we’re unwilling to go outside and lend a hand to our neighbors next door.
Don’t beat yourself up, though. In our 24-hour breaking news cycle, we see tragedy all around us that, unfortunately, becomes almost as normal as the blockbuster movie we saw last weekend. This combination of real-time reporting and social media has desensitized us to pain. We don’t want to hurt with those who hurt—so we keep scrolling. The problem is, Jesus calls us to mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15). He calls us to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:34-40). And oh, yeah—the word “compassion” we throw around a lot? It doesn’t quite mean what you think.
The word compassion comes from two parts. The first part, “com” is a prefix that means “with.” The second part, “passion” comes from a Greek word meaning “suffering.” So, compassion literally means “with suffering.” If we’re really going to be like Jesus, we can’t just slap a bumper sticker on our car and do nothing. We’ve got to really serve people, and really love them (Romans 12:9). So, with so many needs flooding our communities, our churches, and our social media feeds—how do we stop wishing we could help people and start actually helping them?
- When you think to pray for someone, actually pray for them. Right now. We’ve all been there. You see a Facebook post from a friend asking for prayer, and you say you’ll do it and forget. It happens. But what if it didn’t? Next time you see a friend asking for prayer, pray for them right there. Whisper it. You can even use the free Echo Prayer app to log it and set reminders to pray for them daily! God loves when we talk to Him, and the prayer of a righteous person is powerful!
- Start a generosity budget. Don’t make generosity an afterthought this year. Plan on it! This year, think about making generosity a priority. Consider going above and beyond your tithe to be a blessing to someone else. Every month, plan on saving a little bit to help someone in need. It could be buying lunch for a friend. It could be meeting a need for a single mom who lives on your street. It could mean pitching in for some diapers for that friend who’s fostering another baby this year. Whatever you use it for, plan to use your resources to accomplish God’s purposes. Ask God to help you meet a need, and He will!
- Serve somewhere. Did you know that serving others actually reduces stress levels in the brain? It does! But even more importantly, serving others is a part of God’s will for your life. Stop wishing you could help people. Instead, serve them! There are countless opportunities to make a difference in the lives of others. Maybe, for you, it’s volunteering at your church’s kids’ ministry as a small group leader. Maybe it’s offering to babysit your neighbor’s kids for free once a week. It could be signing up to serve with a local mission partner in your community. Whatever it is, find someplace where you can use the gifts God’s given you to help others. And don’t do it for your own glory—do it for God’s glory.
This year, I’m not wishing to help people. I’m planning on it. Why? Because we are God’s masterpiece, created to do good works that He planned in advance for us! So, how can you stop wishing to help others? Start.