Throughout our daily lives we all have relationships with those we try to serve. Perhaps this is through helping professions such as teaching or medicine. Or maybe we are very involved in our community or in our church. Many of us are raising children in our homes. Those relationships can often bloom into friendships. However, navigating those relationships can be challenging since by nature, those relationships can be delicate. At the heart of these relationships is trust and gaining trust from those you are trying to serve is imperative in building successful relationships.
To build trust there must be room for truth.
Those of us that work with children (or those who have children of their own) can attest that children have a remarkable ability to tell the truth no matter what. As I greeted one such enthusiastic child one morning, I exclaimed, “Wow, you have grown so much in a year.” He replied, “Wow, Dr. G so have you!” In that one statement, this child bluntly informed me that I needed to return to a healthier lifestyle of diet and exercise.
To have trust there must be consistency. What children crave in their relationships is consistency. As a pediatrician there are children I have seen their entire lives who take years to build up the nerve to share things with me. Sometimes we need not do anything except be available. Oftentimes, we try too hard to get at the heart of a matter and, in the end, create obstacles. As a parent, I find myself doing this with teenagers. Sometimes, a powerful moment in a relationship is made possible from years of creating judgment-free spaces for our teens. God calls us to be still to hear His voice. This can be applied in our relationships with others as well. 1 Samuel 12:16: “Now then, stand still and see the great thing the Lord is about to do before your eyes.” In our close intimate relationships with others, sometimes we try too hard. With teenagers I have worked with, I have found myself trying for months to get to the root of anxiety and depression to no avail. Yet, many times, when I have turned the conversation to a sore throat or a stomach ache, the
unexpected source of that anxiety is revealed. In discussing neutral matters teenagers will often unexpectedly share about intimate issues such as questioning God’s existence, suicidal thoughts, and depression.
Trust, truth, and consistency may be what we try to bring to these relationships. However, some of the greatest lessons we learn in life are from the ones we are trying to serve. Decades ago, long before I had my own children, I did medical missions in India. I learned from the family of a leper who had been cast from their village that the love of a parent can transcend all medical tragedies. I learned a hug is more healing and more powerful than medicine. Even though we think as parents, teachers, and doctors that we are to serve and help children, we need only to look at scripture to see how God has used children to illustrate many lessons and perform miracles.
Children are by nature trusting and eager to learn from those around them. God often has used children to carry out His mission. When Jesus asked the boy with the five loaves and two fish for his lunch he did not hesitate to do what was asked of him. When the Syrian General Naaman heard about the prophet Elisha and that he might heal him from leprosy, it was his servant girl who gave him this information. So he went to Elisha and requested healing but when Elisha told him to wash in the Jordan River seven times, he was infuriated. Again his servants, (and possibly the same servant girl), were the ones who convinced him to do what was asked of him. It was through this relationship with those who were serving him that he was healed.
As we carry out our duties with work and family, perhaps we can slow down and see we have already completed much of the hard work involved in those relationships. By standing still God is able to navigate His purpose without us getting in the way. By slowing down and standing still God can use these relationships in our lives to further His relationship with us.
Brian Gillespie is a pediatrician in Lexington, Kentucky where he has practiced for 14 years. He has spent time on short term medical missions to Africa, Asia and central America and he walks alongside Word Made Flesh as a member of the Advisory Council. He is a graduate from Asbury University, West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, and the University of Kentucky pediatric residency program. Brian and his wife live in Nicholasville, Kentucky and have three children.