Be Loved / Belong / Believe

Spoiler Alert: This is rarely helpful or effective.

Chances are, there’s at least one person in your life whom you’ve been praying will believe something deeply important to you is also deeply important to them.

However, no matter how hard you try to convince them, or how sound and logical your arguments are, they simply aren’t willing to consider your position. Your conversations all devolve into arguments, and you both walk away frustrated and hurt.

What if trying to change someone’s belief isn’t the best focus?

I wholeheartedly believe the foundation of true healing and freedom must be Jesus. To me that is not debatable. But if I’m talking with a guy who doesn’t hold that same belief and I make it my goal to convince him otherwise, there’s a good chance that will be our only meeting. He will feel like my only interest in him is to make him think like me—not to offer him help or be his friend.

In other words, he will feel like a project rather than a person.

That’s why I’ve found it’s much more productive to focus on loving others well than trying to change their beliefs. The beauty of this, is it’s actually much more likely to lead to meaningful and honest conversations about beliefs.

Let me explain how this looks in our recovery meetings.

Be loved: When a guy shows up for the first time, we make it a point to let him know he’s welcome and loved—no matter where he’s at in his journey. Even if he wants nothing to do with Jesus, we’re still glad he’s there. There’s no requirement to believe a certain way to be loved by and included in our group.

Belong: Our goal is that by knowing he’s surrounded by brothers who love him right where he’s at, he would eventually feel like a true member of the group (because he is).

Believe: This sense of belonging provides a safe environment for him to be honest about his struggles, and perhaps even ask questions about deeper faith issues as well. It may take hearing 100 stories from other guys in the group about their relationships with Jesus before he even considers looking into Christ himself—or he may never believe. Either way, we’re still going to keep loving him and welcoming him with open arms.

You see, we understand it’s not our job to change people (only God can do that), so we leave that part up to Him. Our job is simply to love people. And if we love them well, perhaps then they will ask us about the hope we have in our lives.

Or, you could always yell at them through a bull-horn. I don’t think that’s going to be very effective though.

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