As a young pastor of a growing church, John Maxwell felt unusually stretched as he went about his duties. There was much more to do than the time he had available. He felt overwhelmed and extended by the demands placed on him. Don’t we all feel this way at times!
As he tells the story in The 21 Most Powerful Minutes in a Leader’s Day, early on in this pastorate, John recalled a phrase his father had taught and modeled for him. “Walk slowly through the crowd” was that concept. To John, it meant that while a person can be purposeful in a plan and in actions, he can move so fast through life that he walks right past the very people God has given him to serve.
So he made a conscious decision to slow down . . . to walk more slowly through the crowd . . . so he could respond to the people God brought his way. It took faith and humility, but God honored his decision and multiplied John’s efforts.
As for me, I’m a planner by nature. I can organize things. But I’m learning to be more flexible, to be more available, and to listen better as God prompts me to see and serve others throughout my day.
For example, one day I was cutting grass and saw my neighbor working outside in her yard. While I would normally push ahead to get my lawn mowed (so I could hurry on to the next project!), I turned off the mower and walked over to talk with her. I complimented her on her beautiful flowers and the work she had put in to arrange them. She smiled and thanked me. Then she offered a very helpful suggestion to make our yard look nicer.
There are many people around us who need a word of encouragement or just someone to listen to them. I believe God wants to use us to touch other lives much more than we can imagine. But it is going to take a little slowing down and maybe not trying to put a 60-minute project into a 30-minute window!
As the holidays approach, now more than ever we need to heed the call to “walk slowly through the crowd.” This season magnifies so many people’s experience of loneliness and loss. “Time with me” seldom appears on our lists of presents to give, but it may be the most treasured gift of all.
John Maxwell walked more slowly through the crowd and discovered that God ministered both to and through him even more than before. You and I would be wise to try this ourselves more often! Wouldn’t you agree?