When the phrase “who cares” is used, it may either be a statement of indifference or a question inquiring if anyone is concerned. There are times when a statement of indifference is perfectly acceptable because there are so many things of so little consequence, but when it concerns our attitudes toward people, indifference must never be an option because there are so many people who are wondering if anyone cares about them and their circumstances.
The importance of conveying our empathy and concern toward people cannot be overstated, whether they are customers, church members, or friends. Some time ago, back when there were service stations instead of just gas stations, a man drove his car into the station for gas, and even though it was a rainy day he was impressed by how the employees were attempting to take care of their customers. He fully understood the first-class treatment when he saw the sign that was posted entitled, “Why Customers Quit.” 1% quit because they die and 3% move away. 5% leave because of friendships, 9% leave because of price, and 14% leave because they are dissatisfied with the product. However, the great majority (68%) leave because of an attitude of indifference by the employees. Pastors, do people who visit our churches perceive that their presence is significant? Not just by the staff, but by everyone?
The need to know that someone cares about us is almost universal and outward appearances do not always convey the whole story. Circumstances can change quickly. King David experienced a number of highs and lows in his life, but there was a time when he expressed concern that everyone was indifferent toward him. “Look right, look left—there’s not a soul who cares what happens! I’m up against it, with no exit—bereft, left alone.” Psalm 142:4 (The Message)
In the parable of “The Good Samaritan,” the majority of the text is devoted to the reactions and actions of the three travelers, the Samaritan, the Priest, and the Levite. The story is well known, the Priest and then the Levite saw the man and while they may have had “legitimate” reasons for avoiding intervention, they both passed by without offering assistance while the “despised” Samaritan provided aid using his own resources. Very little is known about the victim, except that he was attacked by robbers and dumped along the road. There is no information about his beliefs or his religious affiliation, but if he was a seeker where do you think he would be drawn? One reason that charlatans and cults are successful in attracting followers is that they are often adept at making people sense that they care for them. Theodore Roosevelt said, “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Do we C.A.R.E.?
It will take more than an acronym or bullet point to consistently demonstrate care toward others, but using the four letters which make up the word “CARE” we have a reminder of the basics.
- Compassion is more than feeling sorry or even being sympathetic about others. The dictionary definition: “The deep feeling of sharing the suffering of another, together with the inclination to give aid or support or to show mercy.” To have compassion is more than sympathy, it is something that wells up on the inside that causes you to take action and follow through.
- Attitude: We must align our attitudes to something greater than our own self-interest. Paul said, “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.” Philippians 2:5 (NLT) Jesus explained, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others…” Matthew 20:28a (NLT)
- Resources: The Samaritan used his own resources to minister to the man who was in need. Admittedly, this can seem a little overwhelming because as we begin to grasp the enormity of the needs around us we will start to feel like the disciples did when they discovered that they could only find a boy with five loaves of bread and two fish and yet there were thousands who needed to be fed. It is really not about how much we have, but instead, it is about our willingness to give what we do have into the hands of a God who is able to multiply our resources.
- Effort: In the same way that our resources will never seem adequate for the task at hand, our strength and energy will also be put to the test, but as the writer of the song “He Giveth More Grace” showed us; “When we have exhausted our store of endurance, When our strength has failed ere the day is half done, When we reach the end of our hoarded resources, Our Father’s full giving is only begun” This thought is echoed by Paul, “For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” Philippians 2:13 (NLT)
There are many people who have been wounded and abandoned along the side of life’s road and they are desperately hoping for someone to come along and care for them and minister to their hurts. Will we be perceptive enough to recognize and come to the aid of those who need us?
When Jesus looked at people who were in need, he didn’t just “feel bad for them.” He took steps to meet them at the point of their need: When Jesus arrived, he saw this huge crowd. At the sight of them, his heart broke—like sheep with no shepherd they were. He went right to work teaching them. Mark 6:34 (The Message)