“Dear Friends, I want to write about caring for people. I do so with trepidation since my busy life precludes caring for people as I ought and they need. Nonetheless, even to my own condemnation I must air the subject because of the challenge it presents, especially to readers who are intent on becoming caring Christians.” These were the heartfelt words Pastor William Still wrote to his congregation on the dawn of the New Year in 1972, his twenty-eighth shepherding his flock in Aberdeen, Scotland. Now, I am sure that many of us have made resolutions as we enter further into the year before us: get healthier, save more money, read through the Bible, pray more—the list goes on and on with a lot of great things, some of which we might even see through to completion. But what about caring for others well? We all understand our lives are busy and, yes, there are things—even good things—that we should probably let go of to not miss the opportunities that the Lord has placed before us. But I think the quantity of our connecting with others, dare I say, is secondary to the quality of those connections. Many times we might use our busyness to excuse ourselves from feeling any guilt for missed connections. However, might it be more often that we would simply rather not involve ourselves with others in those moments for either something that has preoccupied our minds of seemingly (not usually) greater importance or because involving ourselves might task us in those moments with more than we are willing to take on at the time (or ever)?
In that pastoral letter, William Still went on to write that “We can often help others by parting the curtains of mystery that hide ourselves and letting them see that we too are frail creatures subject to common temptations.” This makes me wonder what the Lord might do in the midst of our church and in our communities and other spheres of influence if we reserved questions asking how others are doing for only those moments when we really wanted to know the truth and, likewise, tell the truth. Whether there was much silence or much conversation in such an exercise, we would surely know one another more intimately and be ready, or at least willing, to learn how to care for each other better than we already do. With all of the Bible studies, Life Groups, Connect events, and worship services planned in 2016—not to mention all of our casual, unplanned encounters—we all will have ample opportunity to take advantage of those providentially-timed moments to figure out how to care for each other well. Your pastors and your elders are not exempt from this either—we have much to learn in caring for each other, for you, and for our neighbors. So as we enter into this season of life together, let me ask us all the question “How are we doing?”