How effective are you at understanding the needs of others?
The following series of advertisements appeared in a daily newspaper …
MONDAY: “The Rev. A.J. Jones has one color TV set for sale. Telephone xxx-xxxx after 7 p.m. and ask for Mrs. Donnelly who lives with him, cheap.”
TUESDAY: “We regret any embarrassment caused to Rev. Jones by a typographical error in yesterday’s paper. The ad should have read: ‘The Rev. A.J. Jones has one color TV set for sale, cheap. Telephone xxx-xxxx and ask for Mrs. Donnelly, who lives with him after 7 p.m’.”
WEDNESDAY: “The Rev. A.J. Jones informs us that he has received several annoying telephone calls because of an incorrect ad in yesterday’s paper. It should have read: ‘The Rev. A.J. Jones has one color TV set for sale, cheap. Telephone xxx-xxxx after 7 p.m. and ask for Mrs. Donnelly who loves with him’.”
THURSDAY: “Please take notice that I, the Rev. A.J. Jones, have no color TV set for sale; I have smashed it. Don’t call xxx-xxxx any more. I have not been carrying on with Mrs. Donnelly. She was, until yesterday, my housekeeper.”
FRIDAY: “Wanted: a housekeeper. Usual housekeeping duties. Good pay. Love in, Rev. A.J. Jones. Telephone xxx-xxxx.”
Having worked for newspapers, I know that typos can happen. But whether it’s getting an ad right, or ministering to someone in need, we limit our helpfulness to others when we fail to understand what the real need is.
These failures happen because we’re quick to assume what the needs of someone else are based on very few facts rather than allowing the person in need to define their own situation and their own needs. Even if we have been in similar circumstances, that doesn’t mean the needs are the same for everyone.
Fortunately, this tendency for misunderstanding the needs of others doesn’t exist with Jesus Christ …
“This High Priest of ours [Jesus] understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most,” Hebrews 4:15-16.
Jesus has “been there, faced that.” He invites us to come to Him and tell Him of our needs, He listens intensely. And He cares.
Jesus never misunderstands us!
When others are in need, do you try to put yourself in their shoes? Do you listen to them and let them define their needs? Do you care? What do you do to make sure you rightly understand the needs of others around you?