Party First, Then Work!

Read: “I could give all that I have to feed the poor, I could surrender my body to be burned as a martyr, but if I do not live in love, I gain nothing by my selfless acts.” 1 Corinthians 13:3 (VOICE)

Reflect: In the second week of our mission trip to South Africa in 2010 our group journeyed to a township of Johannesburg to help a church put on a festival for the people in the neighborhood. We arrived early anticipating a lot of work to set up for the party. As we pulled in we saw an elaborate set up of tables and food and a party already underway!

At first, we were a bit confused that maybe we had gotten the time wrong or were somehow late to the very event we were supposed to be hosting! Yet it turned out we weren’t late at all. According to South African custom, we couldn’t partner with these new friends before sharing a meal together. We walked in ready to roll up our sleeves and get to work, the folks from the church wouldn’t even think about working together until we sat down to eat! Everyone in our group remarked at the difference in the mentality of our two cultures. We were all task oriented, they were all relationship focused. The day ended up being amazing and it made a huge difference that we started the event off building relationships with one another rather than just working together as co-laborers.

That lesson has stayed with me since then. I can too easily get caught up in getting a to do list accomplished and miss the larger goal of building strong friendships. Sometimes you need a party before the work begins in order to accomplish great things!

React: Do you find yourself focused on a to do list and missing ways to connect with people? How can you take time this week to invest into a relationship in your life that has gotten ignored or overlooked?

Pray: God, help us love people like you do. Remind us to keep the main thing as the main thing.