I had the privilege of serving with a man named Chris at NYWC 201o. Chris is a youth ministry vet who has been loving on kids for 20+ years and to call him a character would be the understatement of the century. Personality is this man’s middle name and you cannot help but smile when he is in the room. But with all the laughs and cutting up, the stories and the off the wall sayings what was displayed even more prominently, and more importantly, was Chris’ love for others. I had the privilege of not only working with Chris but also spending down time with him as well, whether that meant eating a meal or walking to and from the hotel or shopping in the YS Store or just browsing the Exhibit Hall. Wherever we were wherever we went Chris never met a stranger. His interaction with every single person was as if he had known them for a lifetime and he truly showed care and in each and every person.
I will confess that many times when I am running in the store of gas station that I blow by people and never think twice about who is waiting on me. What really is sad is that I used to work retail and I know how big a difference a customer with an outgoing personality can make in a employees day. I have even said to myself years ago that I wanted to be that guy. Often times I will forget peoples names and simply brush it off with lame excuses but not Chris. Within a day of being at the event he had learned every name not just on our team but on the entire YS staff that was onsite for the conference which must have been a good 50 people. And it was more than just memorizing, he had genuinely gotten to know each person and cared for each and every one of them. When we would walk through Chris would take time to speak with anyone who stood still long enough whether that be a security guard or a janitor or a YS staffer. With a smile on his face and a kid word on his lips Chris would make sure that everyone in his path would be left with a smile.
As I sat in my office reflecting on this week and my experience and what I had learned what convicted me the most was how I fail so many times to love the people around me whether I know them or not. It is really a powerful thing, a difficult thing to be sure, to love all at all times but oh so important and a lesson that hope to be able to learn.