Meeting with the board and staff of a pregnancy help medical clinic the other day, one of the board members began thanking me—of all things—for my work with their center.
I was appreciative, yet also replied that I have the “easy” role. I have the opportunity to visit centers across this country (10 in eight states during these four weeks, for instance), to look inside, spend time with the leadership and speak at their events. This is not a job, it is an honor.
The true challenge I said, was to come into the center each day, prepared for a host of clients with an array of difficulties. I mentioned one hypothetical client in particular; “The repeater,” I think I called her.
“She comes in—again—for a pregnancy test,” I said. “This is her fourth child and the third or fourth father.” Nodding heads among the staff members.
“She’s excited,” I added. “This is not a big deal for her. As many times as we have reached out to her, she only sees us as a place where she can go through our parenting initiative and get stuff. Nothing we say seems to connect.”
One staff member laughed out loud. “That’s our client from yesterday! That’s almost exactly her!”
As a former director, I saw this client at the center where I served, more than I’d like to admit.
Were we not doing something right? Were we enabling her? We all ask these questions, I’m sure.
I don’t have an answer for this situation. I can’t say, “Do this and this and this and everything will change for her.”
But I can say this: We share this scenario with Jesus. In John 6, Jesus offered followers a clear, powerful view of what it meant to follow him. In John 6:66, we read an awkward response: “As a result of this many of his disciples withdrew and followed him no more.”
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But Jesus did not run after those who were leaving, offering an easier route to salvation. Instead Jesus had to move forward, knowing many would say, “No” to his message.
In our centers, we have clients who come back to us again and again, yet they have no intention of changing their lifestyle. In a sense, they are like those disciples who walked away, choosing not to follow a new path.
My point? If there were “many” who could listen to Jesus and not follow, it should not be a surprise when we see some (or many) who do not seem to capture what we offer.
Yet, it is a part of our mission—just like Jesus—to get up the next day and stay the course. And there is good news: Things are not always as they seem.
For instance, let’s remember a guy named Saul (of Tarsus) who was convinced that his calling was to persecute every Christian he could find.
In Saul, the Christians of the day saw a man full of rage against them, and the political power to go with it. But things were not as they appeared. Saul became the Apostle Paul.
When a client comes in our door multiple times with the same issues, the same lifestyle and repeat news of a new baby, it is easy for us to see . . . what we see. And it would be dishonest of us to believe that 100 percent of the time, there will be change.
Yet, we never know how and if God is working. We never know when things are not as they seem.
A thought? As we grow our organizations, let’s make it a point to see every person as having potential to change, regardless of what we see and regardless of past decisions.
Because we never know when things are not as they seem.
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Have you been surprised a client's sudden change? Let us know in the comments or send us your story here. Also, don't forget to join Kirk Walden at the 2015 Heartbeat International Annual Conference in St. Louis April 7-10. Click here for more information.