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A Man For Hire

There is no one like my husband.

He likes to tell everyone that I am the talented one, but the truth is that I have a lot of odd talents. Justin has mass amounts of useful talents that anyone could use (and honestly everyone has to pay tons of money for someone to do for them).

I am so lucky to have him and we are both learning the art of bartering. Since we have moved here just about six weeks ago, Justin has fixed the breaks on a car, changed the oil, replaced several parts in several different tractors, rebuilt a few carburetors, built a chicken coop, built a pig run, landscaped the yard, tilled gardens, built a dog run line, chopped down several huge trees and many many dead limbs, put in a new floor, remodeled a bathroom, built a shed from scrap tin, put in a new water heater, installed a water filtration system to the well, put in a new sink and counter, built a fireplace and tv unit, moved lumber and a ton of other things I don't even know about! Some of those things were for us, but many of them were for other people. Justin truly is wiling to give of himself for others, and it makes me so proud to be his wife.

Here is what I have learned from his example on how to love your neighbor:

Then help others who are struggling. Do this especially when you are struggling. It may seem counterintuitive to reach out to others in need when you’re feeling so needy yourself. But when you help other people, you help yourself, too. We have been in situations where there was no money in our bank, but we could still give of our time and talent. And just by doing so, God always took care of our finances, too.

Helping others is a healthy habit to develop, no matter what circumstances you may be going through. While your focus is on blessing other people, you’ll find that God blesses you in a wide variety of ways.

Consider the many benefits of helping others. Helping other people will help you: get rid of negative emotions like anger or grief, reduce stress, increase joy, improve your physical and mental health, renew your sense of hope about what’s possible, improve your sense of self-worth, and connect you to caring people. Justin has never come home from helping someone else and been upset. He always has stories and usually has even more opportunity to meet and help others.

Don’t let anything stand in your way. It’s easy to make lots of excuses about why you don’t want to help others: it’s inconvenient, it’s messy, it pushes you out of your comfort zone, you don’t feel like you can spare time or energy, or you’re just plain indifferent or apathetic when you encounter other people’s needs. Pray for the strength to avoid making excuses, and ask God to give you the compassion you need to truly care about other people’s suffering and the motivation you need to help them. I am beyond shy. In fact I have a panic disorder. Going up to a stranger is the last thing I want to do. But I can and I have found ways that I can help others. When someone is in need and you feel you have nothing to give, you can write them a letter, just show up and be there for them, or be their advocate for help from others. Set up a meal giving, think of who you know who might be able to help them specifically. For Justin this might mean connecting two people who can help eachother out. It might mean taking an afternoon to show up to fix someone's sink. It might mean that we pull over on our way somewhere and help a stranger change a tire. Decide that you’re going to help other people regularly, because you want to become the kind of person who loves the way God wants you to love.

Notice the opportunities to serve around you. Every day, pray that God would guide you to the people He wants you to serve and recognize what specific ways He wants you to help them. Keep in mind that you can’t do everything, but you should do something, and God will help you figure out which opportunities are best for you and set appropriate boundaries so you’re able to help in effective ways without overwhelming yourself.

Get the good Samaritan feeling. When you give some of your resources (such as time, energy, or money) to help others, you free yourself from a preoccupation with your own needs and help yourself trust God more. You also discover and fulfill more of God’s purposes for your life, which will bring you joy. We are not so busy that we neglect the responsibilities we have, but we are too busy to watch meaningless tv, spend hours on social media, or find ways to let sin sneak in. Medical researchers have found that helping others triggers the brain to release chemicals called endorphins that cause feelings of satisfaction and happiness. All of this contributes to the good Samaritan feeling that makes you feel fulfilled when helping other people in need.

Identify a special group of people you’re especially passionate about helping. Pray about the distinctive blend of interests and talents God has given you, and ask for the wisdom to figure out which type of group of people you can focus on helping. While it’s important to remain open to helping people in a variety of situations as God leads you, you can help people the most when you build meaningful relationships with them, as you can by focusing on a primary way of serving. Justin found that he was passionate about helping teens. He connected with them and was able to teach them in a way that most just are not able to do. It was easy for him to give his time and energy to this youth because it filled his heart with joy to find what he was meant to do. Are you passionate about helping children who are struggling in school, or elderly people who are lonely? Do you sense a calling to help people who are suffering from a certain disease, like cancer? Is God leading you to reach out to prisoners? Is there a special cause that’s close to your heart, from finding homes for homeless animals to working for tougher laws against drunk driving? When you help people in a way that you’re passionate about, you’ll discover the thrill of fulfilling more of God’s purposes for your life.

Learn the strength of compassion from the weakness of those you serve. Ask God to teach you the value of human weakness and develop compassion in you as a result. Get to know some people who our society perceives as weak because of their profound needs (such as physically or mentally disabled people) and learn from them more about why it’s important to trust in God’s unconditional love, why people should treat each other with respect, and why being is just as valuable in God’s eyes as doing. Justin gains compassion from myself most of all. On days I struggle he learns to help and has grown in his empathy for others by learning patients with my disabilities.

Find gratitude and joy by being consistently generous. The more you incorporate generosity into your daily life, the more you’ll notice that you can thank God for, and the more of God’s joy you’ll feel regardless of your circumstances. Generously helping others whenever possible will also prove to you that the more you give away love to people in need, the more of God’s love you’ll notice flowing through your own life in an unlimited supply. When we started researching about being missionaries, we realized how much we had. We had even spent years downsizing and having less so that by the time I was 30 we had only utility bills to pay (that was less than $1000 a month). Did you know that the average bills of an American family including transportation, utilities, loans and a mortgage payment or rent is more than $5,000 a month? Most of the countries we looked at serving didn't even have electricity in most areas and families lived in small huts or one room homes with little to nothing inside. Trust me. They are happier than a lot of Americans I know. Owning less gives you more freedom. It will give you freedom from being bound by money. It will give you freedom having to work just to pay for your huge house and yard that you are never home to enjoy. Check out a Compassion Experience if you need somewhere to start. You won't regret it. So start out forcing yourself to be generous to others when you don’t feel like doing so, and then notice how your feelings change the more you decide to be generous. Soon, you’ll want to be generous, and generosity will become a natural part of your life because you’ll feel good each time you help others.

Discover hope for yourself when you instill hope in others. Defy despair when you’re suffering personally by helping other suffering people through a cause that’s bigger than yourself. Celebrate the good goals that you have already achieved through your work serving others so far in life. Ask God to use your service to others to reveal a hopeful vision of what your life can become like in the future. Keep trusting God to bring great good out of your work helping the people He has called you to help.

I would like to say that this is a normal human behavior, but it is not. For Justin, it is the way God made him; to show others love by helping. Sadly, in the United States, it isn't the normal and even within the church it has become hard to find. The truth is, that giving isn't about what you have to give or what you can get. Its about extending love to others and sometimes they return that love. Sometimes they do not. It isn't the motivation for the action. The motivation is a natural way of living like God intended.

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture,

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.

- James 2:8

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