Tuesday, October 04, 2011

How do you measure compassion?

I attended the Global Leadership Summit last week. I was challenged and moved. Most impactful was the testimony and talk from Mama Maggie Gobran, founder of Stephens Children Ministry and Nobel Peace Prize nominee who serves the poorest of the poor in Cairo. I see Jesus in her eyes.

When I am confronted with great need and those who are doing a great work in meeting the need, I sometimes discount my ability to make a difference. Being a discouraged perfectionist, the response is sometimes: "If I can't make a big impact, why try at all?" Do you ever feel that way? That the problems are systemic and my small effort won't make a dent?

So I was glad this weekend as my church launched a ministry designed to raise up adoptive and foster parents from our congregation, as well as recruiting Compassion child sponsors. An added bonus this morning was listening to a message by the pastor for whom I work. He spoke about what it truly means to "bear one another's burdens" (Gal. 6:1-5) and he shared a great quote:
Compassion is not quantitative. Certainly it is true that behind every human being who cries out for help, there may be a million or more equally entitled to attention. But this is the poorest of reasons for not helping the person whose cries you hear. Where then, does one begin or stop? How to choose? How to determine which one of a million surrounding you is more deserving than the rest? Do not concern yourself with such speculations. You will never know. You will never need to know. Reach out and take hold of the one who happens to be nearest. If you are never able to help or save another, at least you will have saved one.  
-Norman Cousins, in Human Options
As a couple, we have chosen a number of ways we give to meet needs. We give our time and our money. We give our attention. Rather than list specifics, I want to leave you with a couple of questions to ponder. List for yourself the ways you give to meet the cry of someone close or far away. Sometimes we think we aren't doing much, but can you list at least one way you have given to meet a need in the past year? The past month? The past day? Do you have an intentional time when you plan how you will give? Do you give till it hurts? How does the spiritual call to sacrifice help you to become intentional about how you give?

Think about these and then decide if you need to make changes.