Several weeks ago I attended a homeschooling event out of town. Those planning the event had worked hard and, naturally, they wanted many people to take advantage of the opportunities they were providing. It was one of those days when I wanted to be in two places at once. I, therefore, divided my time the best way I knew how, fulfilling responsibilities at one place earlier in the morning and arriving late at the homeschooling event. I was surprised at how many empty seats were in the auditorium.
I had hardly stepped inside before a new speaker came to the podium. Among the speaker’s first words were: “This place should be full.” My heart sank. Why did these mamas, daddies, and children have to hear that? They had gotten up early, gotten their children ready, driven to the event, found parking downtown in a big city, and made their way to the auditorium, children in tow!
If anyone needed to be chastised (which I doubt), it certainly wasn’t these families. They needed to be applauded! Among those many mamas in attendance, perhaps one was going to visit her mama in the hospital that afternoon. Perhaps another had been up with a little one for three hours in the middle of the night. Perhaps another had scrimped for two months to have the money for gasoline to come.
We humans are deeply in need of encouragement. Naturally, this organizer wanted many people to be a part of the special event. That would have been encouraging to the organizer. However, it is easy to think that what we are involved in is the most important thing and that there is something wrong with people whose circumstances are such that they simply must make different choices. It’s easy to forget that those folks need to be encouraged, too.
A good replacement for “This place should be full” might be something like this: “Thank you for your heroic efforts to be here with us this morning.”
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit,
but with humility of mind regard one another
as more important than yourselves;
do not merely look out for your own personal interests,
but also for the interests of others.