Short Line or Long Line?

Posted by on Oct 30, 2013 in Gary | 14 comments


A friend shared a quote that both intrigued and inspired me.

The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches, but to reveal his own.” Benjamin Disraeli

It’s far easier to share our riches of understanding, experience and resources than it is to help another discover who they really are and what God has already given them.  We can only help someone in this deeper way by focusing on their story, desires and journey as we listen carefully to the voice of their heart and the voice of God.

It seems that our culture (church and world) is predisposed is to advise rather than advocate, to declare rather then dig.  It works, at a surface level, because people want quick answers and love to give advise.

We look for what is true in a situation and formulate an answer.  But, as we know, what is true in a moment is rarely the truth about the moment or situation or person.  Scripture says,

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:16, 17 NIV)

I recite the first part of this verse every morning and evening – “so from now on”.  It’s the second part of this verse that I keep forgetting – “regarding no one from a worldly point of view”.  I sincerely want to view others (and myself) as a new creation and not simply understand them by the reactions of their “being-renewed” heart (Eph.4:23) to pain, fear, shame and sin.

Jesus, the one who created and recreates us, is the only one who can rightly define us, so it is to Him we must listen. An acquaintance of mine was asked how he gets such powerful words for people, to which he responded:

When I meet with a person I ask Jesus

  • What have you deposited in this person that you want me to call out?
  • What have you spoken to this person that you want me to confirm?
  • What has this person experienced that you want me to comfort?

These prayerful questions cause us to see a person as both a new creation and one who is being transformed into a new creation.

At a recent Base Camp Gathering, an event for those who have gone through a Calling retreat or the Online Calling Course, we encourage and facilitate each person to “consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:23, 24) by listening to each other and God.  It’s a very powerful and life giving time which feels exceptional, though it shouldn’t be.

One man at this event said, “I have a long line of people who want to tell what’s wrong with me and a short line of people who want to help me understand who I am and what I bring to the world.  That short line started here.”

I want to stand at the beginning of people’s “short line”, seeing them, not from a worldly point of view, but as a new creation, encouraging them on toward love and powerfully good exploits.

Albert Schweitzer said,

Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light.”

Let’s call out the “new creation” in each other and rekindle our wind weary flame.


14 Responses to “Short Line or Long Line?”

  1. John Moorhead says:

    Gary, There has been a deep longing in my heart for years to become, more and more, a person who relates to others like this. It is love. It is Jesus. The longing has been deeper than ever the past 3 months, as I have begun a new relationship with my beloved wife, and am now, as I write this, in the process of moving back into our home with her after a two-year six-month separation. What you describe is my new heart towards her, and the words that flow out of my mouth surprise me. But, this is what I want to say to you: You are shining; you put words to something glorious, something not of this world. It is God in you; love in you; the Kingdom in you. I have never read anything which resonated more with my heart; brought my soul to groan with a broad smile, “YES!” Living like this, loving others like this brings an experience of joy beyond words. I want more. I am so deeply thankful to God for who you are, and who you are becoming.

  2. Gary, what you stated in your post is the reason I like coaching over consulting. Both are necessary of course, but coaching focuses on pulling the best out of a person. Its a very other-centered exercise. Thank you for your post.

  3. Many people live empty lives. They have no clue who they are.

    I confess that I live in a world of introspection–to the extent that my vision for personal growth never gazes beyond a mirror. I have let my wounds hypnotize and paralyze me.

    It took the love of a wise counselor, seeing me pro bono when I couldn’t afford it (someone who has faced much more pain than I have), to snap the spell of my emotional poverty.

    The only way we can defeat the lie that we are alone is to invest ourselves in others.

  4. I think,a holy life,is in the short line.

  5. Gary,

    Well spoken!

    Powerful words worth their weight in gold!!!

    You reminded me of a situation with a very close friend who was undergoing counseling for some emotional trauma and the counselor asked me what I hoped their outcome might be. From what I knew of my friend, I answered that I hoped they saw themselves as a Spiritual Being first.

    I need to view all my brothers and sisters in Christ as Spiritual Beings with temporary earthly shells.

  6. Wow. This shot right into my heart. I am guilty of doing this — giving advice and judging others for not “getting” it. I recently reacted to someone (in my heart/mind) for the struggle they are still trapped in. Oh how I wish my perspective were more like you suggest–to see them it as they appear but as they are.

    I’m so grateful for your thoughts and the quotes. I will print this and post it on my wall… This is a foundational and critical shift I need to make in my view of others (and myself).

    I am preparing for my 24-hour “no talking” fast. Your article resonates with what is at the heart of what I hope to gain.

    Thanks for sharing,

  7. Scott Wilson says:


    Once again you gave me a word at the right time! I’ve been learning I am meant to serve and help people. I need to take a breath ask God what He wants me to offer instead of me just spitting out something that was not thought out. Thank you again.


  8. David Morse says:

    Gary, thanks for the reminder to encourage others. We meet weekly with a group of men at the Salvation Army homeless shelter here, and starting this week, I will be asking God to show me the 3 things you shared:
    What have you deposited in this person that you want me to call out?
    What have you spoken to this person that you want me to confirm?
    What has this person experienced that you want me to comfort?
    Thanks for all you do!


  9. I’ve thought of the “short line” for two day now.

    I heard this scripture the day I read the blog,

    Titus 1
    To the pure,all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving,nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled

    Short line, pure of heart:
    Feel real invitation
    True encouragement
    sets you free,heals your heart

    Long line:
    Straighten up
    Spot the sin
    Speak the religious truth
    feels like a death sentence

  10. This is stellar Gary. As you often do…you clarified an issue that existed in me. This is what bothers me about ‘leaders’. Those that preach but don’t take any responsibility to help folks walk it out.

    I’ve grappled with this a lot, trying to find my balance. Brother, you have been in my short line since we met. Thank you.

  11. Keith B says:

    Well said — straight to my heart, as I receive many blessings (for which I am grateful) and much advice, in forms that are easily offered. Yet almost none wish to do the work required to know me, advocate for what I believe, know I have to offer the world. Because my situation is “critical”, I am counseled to take any work available, even if it is contrary to my values. I understand the desire to help, I do, and in the past I have taken the same approach. But it is not very helpful at all, does little to recognize my value (or that of any person). So thanks, Gary, for speaking so accurately and lovingly. Blessings, keith

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