I will bless you… and you will be a blessing…
and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.
From the very first pages of the Bible, we see God blessing his people so that his people might bless those who do not know him. We have been blessed so that we can be a blessing to others. As followers of Jesus, two of the most important ways to bless our world is by actively loving our neighbors and helping them connect with Jesus.
But practically, how do we this? BLESS is built around five simple, straightforward practices that help us make loving our neighbor and sharing our faith a natural part of our everyday lives. If we do at least one of these BLESS practices every day, we will not only look more like Jesus, but we will help others find Jesus as well!
BEGIN WITH PRAYER
I will pray for the people in my life and the places where I go.
LISTEN WITH CARE
I will listen to and discover the needs of others and the places where God is at work.
EAT WITH OTHERS
I will share meals and spend time with the people in my life.
SERVE WITH LOVE
I will respond to the needs of others and help them in tangible ways.
SHARE YOUR STORY
I will share with others the story of Jesus, and what he has done, and is doing, in my life.
As we seek to love our neighbors and help others connect with Jesus through the BLESS practices, we begin with prayer—recognizing we can only do this through God’s power. Pursuing Jesus’ mission in our lives should always begin with prayer.
Offer yourself to God
Ask God, “How do you want to grow and use me to bless the people in the places where I live, work and play?”
Create a BLESS Prayer List
Who do you live, work and play with who do not know Jesus?
Another approach is to think of people you know, people you used to know, and people that you would like to know who have yet to connect with Christ.
Talk with God about these people, asking him to help identify 3-5 of them to pray for daily. Write these names down.
Commit to asking God to grow and use you to bless those that you are praying for, and be sure to go and look for opportunities to be a blessing.
Pray that God would bless them and their families.
Pray that God would give you opportunities to do good for them.
Pray for open doors into relationships.
Pray for opportunities to listen to them, eat with them, serve them, and share your story.
Pray that God would give you wisdom to make most of these opportunities.
Pray for courage that, when given the opportunity, I would share God’s story with love and gentleness.
How to pray: a Simple Guide for Normal People by Pete Greig
Possible: Discover the Joy of a Prayer, Care, Share Life by Lon Allison
To BLESS others, begin with listening rather than talking. In the Gospels, we find that Jesus asked over 300 questions while only providing direct answers to 8 of the questions asked of him. There is power in asking good questions and listening attentively to the answers. When people know that they are being heard and understood, they feel accepted and valued. So, get curious and ask good questions, and listen well so you can learn how to BLESS others!
Learn to listen with care to:
God: who is God asking you to put on your BLESS list, and what is he saying to you about these people?
People: seek to learn people’s stories – be attentive to their hopes and dreams, struggles and pain, and listen for evidence of God’s work in their lives.
Places: where are the needs and gaps in your community – how can you be meaningfully involved in showing the love of Jesus and make an impact for good where you live, work and play?
The Four H’s of Listening – four categories of great questions that we can ask:
History: Tell me your story. Where did you grow up? Go to school? First job?
Heart: What is your favorite (hobby, team, band, restaurant, vacation spot, etc.)?
Habits: What are you into? Good at? What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
Hurts: How are you doing with (name the situation)?
Eating together is one of the surest ways to move a relationship from an acquaintance to a friendship. Eating with others helps us to build relational bridges, discover people’s stories, and discern next steps. Jesus commonly ate and drank with those he sought to engage, such as Matthew, Zacchaeus, the Samaritan woman, and many others. We have the opportunity to richly BLESS others through hospitality.
Three questions to consider:
How can I be intentional about having a meal with the people I am seeking to BLESS?
What are the obstacles that I face to extending hospitality to others? (Not a good cook, no time, limited space, messy house…)
How can I overcome these obstacles? (Eat out, keep it simple, potluck, don’t worry about having a pristine house, focus on the people…)
Simple ways to eat with others
Meet for coffee
Invite a work colleague to lunch
Have dinner together at a home or a restaurant
Invite a neighbor over for dessert
Host a game night
Organize a BBQ with some neighbors
Add one person to one meal per week
The Dinner Table as a Place of Brokenness, Connection, and Blessing by Barry Jones
Why Eating Together is a Big Deal to Jesus by Jack Wakefield
Perhaps one of the most powerful ways to BLESS others is by genuinely serving others with love. Jesus had a profound impact through serving the people around him – and we can as well. As we listen carefully and develop relationships with others, we will discover opportunities to serve them in meaningful ways. As we humbly and joyfully serve others, they will begin to experience the love of Jesus in tangible ways. God longs to love others through you.
Simple ways to serve others.
Find little ways to acknowledge important events (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.).
Offer to meet a tangible need, such as providing a meal, babysitting, running an errand, raking leaves, shoveling snow, etc.
Invite someone you are praying for to join you in a service project (you may even have the opportunity to share why you serve others as you serve together).
Keep someone company when they are going through a difficult time.
Be generous and willing to share what you have with others.
Offer to pray for someone.
As we build a relationship and earn trust with others, we may have the opportunity to BLESS them by sharing our story of how Jesus has changed, or is changing our lives. Talking about what Jesus means to us and what he has done in our lives does not have to be complicated or dramatic. Keep it short, simple, real, and keep it focused on Jesus. Sharing our story can help someone else connect with Jesus!
A simple way to share your story.
BEFORE: Your story before you trusted in Jesus, and committed your life to following him.
DURING: Your story of how you received Jesus, and made a commitment to follow him. Tell how you came to this place, and what you did.
AFTER: Your story after you made a commitment to follow Jesus. Tell about the difference that receiving and following Jesus has made in your life.