This is post SEVEN of a ten part blog HELPFUL HINTS. Check back each Monday for a new submission
We have talked about Rebounds, Respect, Relationships, Recognize, Read and being Ready but this week I will hit on REACH. The fact is as we reach it entails a degree of RISK. Everytime you try something new it includes some level of potential loss, fear of failure and not knowing the outcome. Reward only comes before risk in the dictionary #justsaying
When I think of the word reach I picture an Octupus. Those guys got some reach! Boxers desire it and politicians crave it. The tale of the tape may measure a boxers reach but it can’t capture the heart. Smaller boxers have a dis-advantage when fighting someone taller because its hard to get close when the opponent can swing from the next zip code and still cause damage. Politicians long for a thick rolodex to not only connect with their constituents but broker deals and ensure their re-election.
Public speakers pray to reach their audience. Many communicate but not all connect. In ministry, I have said before “If your preaching ain’t reaching than you are just teaching.” Preaching is REACHING = pREACHING. All aspects are important but it is imperative that we REACH others while we still have time. The Bible talks about “redeeming the time.” One way to do that is when we read the Bible and get ready for battle we are in a positiion to reach others hence redeeming the time (make the most of your life).
This post will be twofold: REACH & RISK however when you are willing to do both you can be part of the rescue! In elementary school my birthday was quickly approaching in fourth grade. To protect the individual I will omit his name and race. Mom said: “Frankie, you can invite ten friends to come to your birthday party at the house but one of those should be someone who doesn’t have many friends. Who can’t afford to bring you a gift and invite him to make him feel special.” That was one of the greatest lessons of my life. Fortunately, I was blessed to learn it early on.
HONESTLY: Even in elementary school kids jockey for popularity like a racer chases pole position. Mom was right and I would have been wrong to not invite him especially when as greedy little kids are praying for toys more than “REACH” another life or make their day. So we invited “Big D.” He was shy, humble and lived on the other side of the tracks. I recall one time he came to school with no laces in his shoes and it broke my heart. My buddy not only didn’t have the brand name shoes but couldn’t afford the laces to keep him going at recess. You talk about dangling by a thread this brother from another mother didn’t have laces! Yet kids complained that they had to wear braces!!
So I invited him and the greatest gift I got that day was not the toys (that I don’t even recall) from my other friends but REACHING out to this guy who came empty handed. That was elementary school but my mission in junior and senior high became (HELPFUL HINT # 7) to reach out to the unlovely and unpopular. One friend in 7th grade said regarding a girl that passed by: “Yuck, that girl is one of the Lee sisters!” I said: Lee sisters – what do you mean? He said: She is ugLEE, smeLEE and homeLEE! When everyone else ROTFL before we had texting my heart was breaking. I knew then who my target audience would be.
Jesus said: “If you do it to the least of these my brethren (sisters) you did it unto Me.” So I became a man with a mission. Yes, I wanted to be accepted by the “in” crowd but also knew I had to reach and RISK loving on the outcasts too. Part of the day I would roll with the cool kids but ocassionally at lunch I would sit with the guy who adorned custom ink stains on his shirt, built-in pocket protector and despite being a nerd already in case it wasn’t obvious he ate NERDS for lunch (colorful candy). WORD TO WISE: Be nice to nerds. They will probably be your future boss. In case you are un-employed it helps to befriend the next Steve JOBS.
I was told early on (and this is not why I did it) but if you would risk, reach out and build relationships with the folks NO ONE wants to know God will bring you before the folks EVERYONE wants to know. This has come true a thousand times in my life. I didn’t start out conversing with Stallone but I did have a dear friend who couldn’t even afford shoe laces (thanks to God we changed that). We (God & me) didn’t start having lunch with Miss USA (before I was married) but did with the teenage pregnant mom who felt like a failure before graduation. The list is endless but it was because I was restless not to settle for anything less of giving God my best and allowing Him to use me to REACH others for His Glory.
By reaching others God elevated me. Yes, I was blessed to be the Prom King my senior year out of 1,200 students in a public high school but I desired to resemble Christ and try to connect and correspond with everyone. At graduation a hard core rocker with a soft heart said: “Frank, I have watched you closely for four years. No one can figure you out. We all tried to label you but failed because you conversed with everyone. From the star running back and homecoming queen to the nerds, jocks, and head bangers like me! He then says something that still echos in my ears today. “Frank, I am not religious but I see Jesus in you and thanks for REACHING OUT to me!” BTW – even Alice Cooper is now a Born-Again Christian! Friends, when we risk reaching out we can bring them in to God’s grace.
Zacchaeus was a short guy in the Bible. He was consumed with cash and concerned about crowds. He found his identity in others. He had a title with man but no testimony in God. He was living large financially but super small spiritually. He had a dilemma and heard that Jesus the Answer was coming through town. Desperate people do desperate things. To his credit he got sick and tired of being sick and tired and he ran up a tree. Why? To be in a better position to SEE! He finally realized God was coming by and like U2 sang: Jesus was coming “WITH OR WITHOUT YOU.” So Zacchaeus is short in stature, sophisticated in sinning and now he is a sicko in a Sycamore tree! LOOK OUT Jesse Jackson
Zacchaeus did what no one else dared to do. He went out on a LIMB for the Lord and branched out for God. FACT: We find a firm foundation in our faith at the trunk of the Triune God (that will preach) but the FRUIT is for those who REACH OUT and go out on a limb for our Lord. WRITE THIS DOWN: Until you are willing to look FOOLISH for God. Risk FAILING for God and even FALLING (out of a tree) for God you will never be much use for Him or good on earth! HELLO!! Friends, we got to be more concerned what Christ thinks than our friends. We will stand before Christ, not crowds or critics. Zacchaeus was blessed because that day he was the sinner and met the Savior and they went out for supper! God gave me that The day the Sinner met the Winner and dined for Dinner! Slap your neighbor -that is some good preaching! God reached Zacchaeus when Zacchaeus went out on a limb, out of his comfort zone, cared less what others thought and risked it all to see the Savior and grab the grace of God.
The beauty about risking to reach people is that God always ministers to us in the process. You cannot outgive God. Plus, EVERYONE needs a touch of God. In closing, I like to highlight a dear friend of mine, JOSH SHIPP We have been friends for almost a decade and we co-authored two books together THE BEST OF TEEN SUCCESS & THE MAKING OF AN UN-SHAKABLE CHARACTER. Josh never met his real parents. He was left at the hospital the day he was born. He grew up in a dozen foster homes before being adopted by loving, caring parents. He was named 30 under 30 recently in INC magazine. He has opened up for Bill Cosby (several times) and he is now a national spokesperson for Foster Care. He has appeared on MTV and writes a column for COSMO GIRL. He served on staff for Pastor Craig Groecshel church in Oklahoma and his BRAND NEW show “JUMP SHIPP” debut this past Friday on national tv on Halogen. It now airs every Fri night at 9PM/8 C. CLICK HERE to see awesome trailer/promo http://halogentv.com/shows/jumpshipp/
A couple years ago, I had the privilege to fly to San Jose, CA and officiate Josh’s wedding. Josh is all about REACHING teens and helping those who love them not only connect but reach them too. The video was filmed in 2008 and us in Baltimore, MD talking about life, leadership and How to Handle Haters. Life is filled with risks but the rewards are to those whom are willing to REACH out. I love that quote “To the world you may be just one person but to one person you may be the WORLD.” Each one can REACH one.