Two Ways to Live

There are two ways to do almost everything: the right way or the wrong way; the quick way or the fast way; the clean way or the dirty way; the slow way or the fast way; the quiet way or the loud way; the easy way or the hard way. It is our choice which method to do something and the outcome is determined by the method.
Recently our senior pastor challenged our church to reach out and meet people outside of our normal group we commonly associate with. In other words; go meet people and get to know them. I loved the idea and took the challenge. The challenge is to meet five new people each week by getting to know their name and one thing about them. That makes you go further than just saying hello and keep going. The challenge involves taking the time to make an effort to get to know people more. So, let me give you a few scenarios that illustrate this challenge.
For eight years Bob Taylor and I would spend our Wednesday morning making hospital visits and then lunch before heading back to the church. Bob was our Senior Adult Minister and I was the Business Manager at the church we served. Bob never met a stranger. He could walk into a hospital patient room having never met this person and leave encouraging them and praying with them. His first step was to introduce him and me to the patient. That way we were on a first name basis right off. Bob had the incredible gift of encouragement and prayer. Everyone he came into contact with, he would ask their name and then ask if he could pray for them. That was of course after he encouraged or complimented them. So, here is a typical day with Bob Taylor.
We arrive at the hospital to the information counter to get a room number for who we were to visit. After getting the room number he would tell the person what a great job they are doing today and how much we need people helping find room numbers. We would proceed to the elevator and on the ride up he spoke to at least one person, most the time each person in there with us, and would encourage them. He had a keen sense if they were burdened or not. Once we arrived to the floor of the patient, he always spoke to everyone in the nurseís station either in passing if they were busy or he would stop to visit if they were idle for the moment. Keep in mind Bob Taylor is the most courteous and polite person you will ever meet. We arrive to the patient room and knock. After a signal to enter, once in the room Bob is speaking to any family that is there making his way to the patient. The visit is short and to the point with prayer before we exit. Of course on the way out and through the hospital, he speaks kindly to everyone thanking them for a great job they are doing. Thatís just the hospital visit!
Our normal routine every Wednesday after hospital visits was lunch. This was the fun part for me and always a blessing. He had this once restaurant that he would go to every day if it was up to him but he would always ask me where I wanted to go just to be nice. I chose different places but many times I would choose his favorite and it would light him up. No matter where we ate, he caused a scene.
First let me tell you what happened at his favorite place the first time he took me there. We walk in and he greets the hostess by name and gives her a hug. She seats us and then the waitress calls him by name and gives him a hug. She takes our order and then a tall guy comes by and he and Bob talk a few minutes. The guy mentions an issue with his family and Bob stops and says lets pray about that. So that is what we do right there at the table in the restaurant. I asked who that man was and it was the store manager. The waitress brings our food out and Bob asks her if she has anything we can pray for and she mentioned her daughter. We all three join hands and pray for our food and her daughter and a few other things. As we leave lunch that day, all I here is ďsee you later BobĒ by a dozen people. I am amazed and blessed by that lunch and soon learned why that was his favorite place.
This would happen where ever Bob and I went. He is the most uplifting and encouraging person you will ever meet and prays all the time anywhere and for anyone. When I first arrived on staff at the church, I was brought by Bobís small office and was introduced to him as the new guy. He smiled big, stood up, and said lets pray for Rick as he joins our staff. Great first impression I would say!
Bob knows everyone and everyone knows Bob Taylor. He became my mentor and father figure here on earth. For eight years I was privileged to serve with him and for eight years we visited the sick and ate lunch together and met people. He introduced me to everyone we met. What is cool is the days he could not go visit I had to go alone. I found myself being like Bob and meeting people, talking to people on the elevator, and addressing the nurses, and complimenting people along the way. It just came natural after being with Bob. I loved that and it made me feel good inside that I was reaching out to people.
One day we got a call that Bobís wife, Mary Jane, was in ER. Word spread fast and when I arrived at the hospital, there were a dozen men there waiting for Bob to arrive waiting to lift up Bob. Mary Jane passed away that day and before we knew it Bob was praying with the doctors and the nurses telling them what great work they did in caring for Mary Jane and doing all they could. Here we were to console Bob and he was consoling others. He knew May Jane was in heaven with Christ and now his job was to encourage and lift up the doctors so they might know the love of Christ. There is no stronger witness that telling others at the loss of a loved one that they are ok in heaven and that God loves them.
Even though Mary Jane was gone, Bob never gave up meeting people and praying and encouraging people. Bob sold their house and moved to a retirement center. The story does not end here. Bob already knew the workers there from making visits there. They loved Bob and loved that he was now living there. Soon everyone knew Bob and he started a Bible study there and soon became their chaplain by default. People would come to his room asking for prayer and when he was in the dining hall they would stop Bob to ask for prayer. He purposefully rented a two bedroom set up so he could dedicate one room to his books and desk and be a room for counseling and prayer.
Letís get back to the title of this article; there are two ways to live. We can live life every day and never meet people or speak to them or care for them or get to know them. We can do our own thing in our fast pace culture and get by just fine. Or, we can be a Bob Taylor and speak to people, care for them, pray with them, know there name and find out about their lives. It is our choice!
Here is another true to life story and its about me. I am a man of habit and I go to the same places over and over. For the past several years I mentor a child at an elementary school on Wednesdays. I specifically chose that time when asked to be a mentor because it reminds me of my days with Bob Taylor on Wednesdays. After I mentor I eat lunch just as Bob and I did for years. I go to the same restaurant and eat the same thing every week. For the past year the same lady is behind the counter waiting on me. The difference is I donít know her name and know nothing about her. Bob would never have allowed that. I have become lazy forgetting there are people all around me hurting with no hope yet I do nothing? Since the recent challenge from our pastor about meeting five new people each week I was reminded I need to start acting like Bob Taylor and sharing Jesus with everyone I meet. I need to learn that ladyís name that waits on me every Wednesday. A few weeks back I went off course and ate there on a Tuesday. When I walked in, that same lady spoke to me and said ďyou are earlyĒ. I didnít know what she meant. I was another restaurant a lot and the same lady brings the food out almost every time. Why do I not speak encouragement to her or ask her name? I go to the same bank all the time and yet I never ask the teller their name or get to know them. I see the same check out person at many stores I go to often over and over and yet I donít know them. That is one way to live but not the best way and not the way Christ would have us live.
See, there are two ways to live. You can go through your life never meeting people, never getting to know their names, never learn something about them and be unsociable and never get the opportunity to share Christ OR you can go through life meeting people, encouraging them, praying with and for them, learning their name, and being a positive influence in others. I chose the latter way to live. What about you? More than likely you are reading this article while sitting in a business with people all around you. Did you speak to them, learn their name, learn something about them, encourage them, or reach out? Try it out and may be amazed at their response. I am challenging you and me to be like Bob Taylor is still today. I donít live near Bob any longer but when I visit or call he always says how great those days were for him when we visited the sick and ate lunch every week. He still prays and encourages and meets people and knows them by name. What a way to live! Bob Taylor made the choice to live like Christ and share His love to everyone he meets not matter where and when. There are two ways to live; which are you living?

Rick Cadden Associate Pastor of Administration and Operations Columbus Avenue Baptist Church