How creepy is it to walk into a new church for the first time? Can we all agree that gets weird fast? So many “what if’s,” and “am I dressed right,” and planning ways to pretend your kid’s not yours if they lose their mind while you’re there. Is that just me?
But what if the first person you met sought you out? Walked right up, held eye contact, gave a warm smile and perhaps a handshake, and let you know with their face and tone that they are glad you walked in? Have you ever met someone like this who had their Jesus heart on and out more than most? You know, the people with a quiet peace who seem to speak like they know secrets of the universe shared with no one else? Add that quiet, Holy Spirit-filled glow to an outgoing personality, not afraid to engage anyone in a get-to-know you conversation, and you have a Barb. Every church needs a Barb. Every family needs a Barb. Heck, every human needs a Barb!
No one slips by Barb without being seen. She sees everyone. In 5 minutes, she will know as much about you as most of your coworkers. And not at all in an intrusive way, just an interested one. She treats everyone as if they have a treasure to offer, like God sees us, like He created us. She wants to know who you are, what you do, what piece of you might easily find connection with others that she knows and loves. She’s a linker. Ask any member of our church how they came to Discovery. I’ll put 10 bucks down that the person mentions Barb. Rarely fails. Heck, it’s MY story of how I came to Discovery, or at least why I stayed. The normal recount usually goes something like this “I walked into Discovery. I met Barb. She introduced me to….”
She anticipates needs like none other. Just watch parents of wee ones walk in on Sunday. Watch her make a beeline to them. She sees and wants to alleviate the stress of young mothers so they can be free to encounter Jesus as much as anyone else. I have a unique perspective from which to observe this skill. Barb is my mother-in-law. While most are blessed by her on Sunday mornings or even a couple of times per week, my family gets loved on, blessed, and served by Barb almost daily.
Service is her love language, her skill, her gift to those around her. But it’s not the visible acts that serve the deepest. Barb is a prayer warrior. Her bubbly, positive personality is grounded in a deep faith that frequently lifts others up before the Throne of grace. The needs she sees are heavy weights for her to bear. Without a fervent prayer life, folks with her capacity for empathy would drown in worry. She chooses to hope in the truth of Scripture about God being a good and sovereign God who holds all things in His hands. It’s a discipline I know she continues to hone, casting her cares upon Him, with prayer and thanksgiving, submitting her requests to God. She’s one in whom you can see the peace of Christ that passes all understanding residing.
No one is perfect, and Barb would be the first to tell you she’s not. (She’s humble too!) But I can immediately tell when I come home from work whether or not Barb has been to my house that day. It’s just a bit more peaceful. Things are put away, straightened. When I know she will also be present at an event, I exhale and let a little of my worry subside. I know I have support.
We are all built to be like Barb in our own ways. It just takes a “yes” after a “yes” after a “yes.” We have gifts and specialties and insights that God can use to bless others. No one has the same combination of these to reach people the way God can through you or me with one “yes” after another to Him. With a “yes,” we can see others the way He does. We can believe truth He has given in His Word. We can serve and love others not of our own strength but out of an overflow of His Spirit in our lives.
Let’s all be like Barb and always leave places and people better than we found them.