Having a Passion for People | Ashley Varner
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Having a Passion for People

You are called to reach people. But called to reach who? Who is your mission field? Today we’re going to learn how we can love like Jesus and pin point the exact people we’re called to reach.


Info from the Show

  • Discover that you’re in good company if you’re in the secular work place
  • Thinking inside (and outside) the church doors
  • How to love like Jesus


Links and Resources



Hey there, you’re listening to The Graceful Life Podcast, where women learn to balance their families, health, work and ministry with grace. All without sacrificing their own relationship with the Lord. I’m your host, Ashley Varner. I’m a Jesus girl, a wife to my high school sweetheart and business partner, and mom to the two sweetest boys I’ve ever laid my eyes on. I invite you to join me each week for some real life talk, encouragement and grace. So grab a cup of coffee and let’s get started.

You are listening to episode three of The Graceful Life Podcast. In this episode, we are going to be talking about how you are called to reach people. But you might be wondering, called to reach who? Who’s my mission field? Well, today we’re going to learn how you can love like Jesus and pinpoint the exact people that you’re called to reach.

So welcome back to The Graceful Life Podcast. I am Ashley Varner, I’m your host and I’m excited to jump right in and share what God has called you to do. That always begins by having a passion for people. So, all of this month on the podcast, we have been focusing on this big idea of you are called. So the first week we talked about how everyone is called to full-time ministry and full-time ministry really goes far above and beyond just the typical, traditional ministry, like being a pastor or being a missionary. You are called right where you are. So last week, if you missed that episode, we talked about how you can find the way that your passion meets God’s purpose for you. If you didn’t listen to that episode, I encourage you to do so because we talked about how really any passion that you have in your life can be used for His glory whenever you let it.

So today we are talking about the important, non-negotiable thing you need to have in your calling. And that is if you start living out your calling, you have to have a passion for people. You just have to love people, that’s part of God’s calling for us, and you might be thinking, you know what, I want to serve and I want to love people, but I’m not really sure who I can reach and who my mission field is. Well, I want you to think back to all the stories that we remember in the Bible and if you think about it, the most prominent bible characters weren’t professional religious leaders, but they did have a passion for the Lord and they had a passion for people.

So think about it, we had Abraham, who was a rancher and a business man. Jacob was the same way. Then we had Joseph and Daniel and Nehemiah who were all in government service. Rahab was a spy. The shepherds, who were at Jesus’ birth, were instrumental in sharing the good news, so they were just shepherds out in the field. All these people were in the secular work place. You know, even Jesus spent the majority of his life as a carpenter before he started his ministry of saving the world. So we know that we can have impact right where we are. You don’t have to be that traditional religious leader in order to have an impact and in order to reach people.

So, whenever you’re thinking about who you can reach, first I want you to think inside the church doors. The reason why I started with this is because the church is a body and in 1 Corinthians 12, Paul really speaks to the people and says, you know what, you are a body together. A hand can’t do more on its own than it could if it was attached to the body. That sounds a little bit graphic, but the truth is, if you cut off your hand, how much influence can your hand have? It can have way less just sitting there cut off than it can whenever it’s actually part of the body. Some of the verses in 1 Corinthians 12, they talk about how if the whole body were an eye, then there would be no hearing. Then if the whole body were an ear, there would be no sense of smell. So we want to first take our place in the body of Christ, and most of the time that means, you know, thinking inside the church doors with those people who already know the Lord, so that you can play your part.

You know, a lot of times I hear people say that they can serve the Lord somewhere else or they can serve him on the lake and they can worship him there. And that’s true. I mean, you can do that. You can serve the Lord anywhere, but don’t rob the people in your church family of you. Because anytime that you’re not there or anytime that you’re not stepping into service there, you’re robbing your family, your church family. I have a very close-knit church family, I love my church family. If I’m gone, even if it’s for a legitimate reason or if we’re on vacation or I have to be somewhere else, and I’m not there for a week, man, I come back and I’m missing my family. That’s what they are to me. Whenever you, if you go to a church and you don’t feel like it’s a family, then I would encourage you to step into service somewhere because that’s where you’re going to start meeting other people who are like-minded and like-hearted, and we want to serve. We want to serve the Kingdom of God, we want to serve his people.

There are tons of ways that you can do that. I’m sure that any of the classes, you know, there’s always, it seems like there’s always a shortage of people to help teach and to help train kids and in the youth, and anything really. So there is a place for you in your church home, and if you just ask, they can fit you with the right place. You know, we have a security team at our church, we have the music team at our church, we have a sound and media. We have all these different areas and a person can fit right where they have a passion and right where their talents are. So, consider that.

Now, it’s not just enough to serve inside the church doors, because inside the church doors are normally people who already know the Lord. You also have to think outside the church doors. So that means, those who don’t know the Lord, because there are going to be very few people who walk into the church doors, just from an advertisement or just on their own, they come because they want relationship and most of the time, the people who come to church already have a relationship with someone who attends there, and that other person has been pouring into their life and meeting a need that they have. And then they show up to church and then they’re able to be taught and trained and ministered to right there. But if you don’t bring them to church within a relationship with them and just talking with them, they might never go and so you can’t just assume that because you’re serving inside the church doors that you can’t be ministering to and witnessing to people outside the church doors.

You know, there’s a perfect example of this. I know people from my church who, they go to the gym very regularly and usually they’re going at the same time every day and they’re seeing the same people every day, and so, one of the people at my church just started to create a relationship with somebody else and just share God’s love with them and just be their friend. You know, help spot them whenever they’re lifting heavy weights and things like that, and that person ended up coming to know the Lord because of that experience that they had with the person at the gym. And so, you can just look around you and think outside the walls of your church and say, you know what, I can reach people right where I am.

Another way that you can think outside the church doors is to meet a need. If you know a family that’s struggling, then maybe one day you anonymously go and pay for their electric bill or you can just share the love of Jesus through kindness in your workplace. Whenever you think in terms of that, because really, it’s not just about shoving the gospel down people’s throats, it’s about caring for people and loving people and just meeting needs and ministering to people. That’s really what the love of Jesus looks like. And whenever they see that, what they’re going to say is, okay, what makes this person different? Why is this person so giving and so caring? Then that opens up the door for you to say, it’s not me, it’s because of Him.

You know, there’s a verse in Matthew, I believe it’s Matthew, 6:13 that says, let your light shine, so that other people, whenever they see your good works, they can glorify your Father in heaven  So whenever you are doing your best, whenever you are ministering to people, when you’re caring about people, they are going to notice and then that’s whenever you can give glory to the Lord.

Whenever we talk about having a passion for people, it really shows itself and we really have an example in Jesus. We can love the way that Jesus loves, and that can open the doors to ministering to people across the board. So one way that we can do that is to forgive out of love. This is what sets us apart from the world. John, 13:35 says, but by this, everyone will know that you’re my disciples, if you love one another. And then again, in 1 John, 4:18, he says, we love because he first loved us.

We don’t have to be like the world. We don’t want to be like the world. So whenever we step out and forgive, we are showing the world, look, I’m different. I am loving you out of this Christ love that I have in me, and because of that, I’m going to forgive you for this. That is definitely a way to love like Jesus and really set yourself apart from other people because in this world, people are really prone to revenge and holding grudges. And whenever you come in with forgiveness, when it’s not even asked for, you are a like a breath of fresh air to the people of this world. They’re going to see you and see those works and then end up glorifying the Lord because of them.

Another way that we can love like Jesus is to sacrifice. He paid the ultimate sacrifice for us and he is an example for us. So we can put our own needs and our own desires and our own wants aside so that we can focus on the needs of other people. This doesn’t have to be big. You know, it can be, but it doesn’t have to be. Something as simple as letting someone go ahead of you in line or choosing not to argue with someone’s opinion and just letting it go. I know, I’m really guilty of always wanting to have the last word and whenever I decided to live this out, what I’m teaching, I decided to live it out and say, you know what, I’m going to let someone else have the last word and I’m not going to try and continue arguing with someone’s opinion. I’m just going to be humble and gentle and let my life speak for itself.

So I alluded to this just a little bit ago but Christ paid the ultimate sacrifice for us. And so it’s the least that we can do to sacrifice some of our own needs for the good of other people. That includes the good of the church and so, like I said, a lot of times, there’s people who struggle with wanting to serve in the church and they say, well you know what, I only get four free nights a week and so I need to spend that time at home, or I don’t have any time to have fun, so I’m not going to teach this class on this night because I get home late from work or whatever it is. It’s time to kind of live up to what our example is and really sacrifice. My husband and I both volunteer quite a bit at our church and it would be easier, if I’m just completely honest, it would be easier for us to just say, you know what, let’s just stay home, let’s just let someone else do it. But we find so much joy in serving, in sacrifice. So we’re willing to sacrifice maybe TV time or just time sitting on the couch because we know that it’s important to invest in the Kingdom of God. So you can just choose to say, you know what, I understand that this is difficult but I’m being an example of Christ whenever I do this.

Another way that we can love like Jesus is by prayer. We can pray for the people in our lives. A lot of times we forget this, but we can pray for God’s mission around the world. My sons love geography, they’re like crazy about geography right now. They could probably tell you any state capital and now they’re onto the countries of the world. I always try to encourage them with their knowledge and their learning, but I knew that I didn’t just want them to learn for nothing. I wanted there to be a purpose in them learning all these countries of the world. So I got this book called, Operation World, and I’ll leave a link in the show notes of it where you can get it, but it’s a pretty lengthy book and it has, each day gives a different country or a different region of the world to pray for. It’s super neat because it has, you know, it’ll tell about the politics of that church and it’ll give demographics and it’ll tell challenges for prayer and answers to prayers, so things that you can praise God for.

So this year, my boys started reading through that, not super formally, but we’ll do a country each day. So they’ll get their globe out and they’ll find the country on the globe and then we’ll talk about the challenges that are in that country as far as, you know, if there’s oppression for Christians there or whatever it is. And so each night they’re praying for a different country of the world. Whenever we pray for God’s mission around the world, that prayer cultivates a heart for other people. Every time I hear my kids praying, in fact, my husband and I, cause we pray with them, it’s cultivating a heart in us for the people and for the mission of God around the world. So whenever we are just intentional about choosing Him and choosing to focus on Him and His mission, then we start to love like Jesus. We start to have a heart like him, for not only the people that are around us, but the people who we’ll never meet.

Another way that we can love like Jesus is by telling other people about him. Now we can get kind of nervous about this or we feel like we’re inconveniencing people, but when we tell other people about the Lord, it’s an act of love. We are sharing the best news that they could ever hear. So look at it that way, that it’s really an act of love. I would definitely say that before you start speaking it out, make sure that you’re living it out, because people are going to be more open to hearing about God’s word if they have seen you living it out in person. Don’t wait until you feel comfortable or accepted because you won’t always. You just have to train yourself to get used to speaking about the Lord, and there’s really no better training than just going out there and doing it. So start with the people that you know, people who know your heart and just be intentional about talking to them about it.

So let’s talk about narrowing down who you should reach. There are people right in front of you that have needs. So I would say whenever you start speaking to people, whenever you start reaching people, start with the people who are right in front of you. There are people who need you, who have physical needs that you can meet, and I would start with those. Then I want you to kind of think about those people who are like you. If you’ve gone through something hard, you’re not the only one, I guarantee you. If you have struggled through something and you have overcome it, I guarantee you there’s someone who is maybe 10 steps behind you, that could really use your wisdom and your knowledge to make it to where you are. So, think about it that way, that there are people who, anytime that you are struggling with something, know that it can be used for more than just you. It will ripple out into other people. There’s a song that says, in the hands of God, nothing is wasted. So whenever you are struggling with something or you go through something hard, realize that whenever you put it in God’s hands, it’s not wasted, at all. God can use it for his glory and to reach people that you wouldn’t be able to reach otherwise.

It’s important to remember that we probably will never realize or truly know the impact that we have in this world, until heaven. So we can never give too much, love too much, or care too much because you can’t outgive a giver. That’s one of my friends favorite sayings. We have been given so much through Jesus Christ and we can never outgive him. We can never outlove him or outcare for people like he does. So if you ask the Lord, on a daily basis, what you can do for him by reaching out to other people with his love, he is going to be faithful to give you the strength and give you the knowledge to do that.

So it is my prayer today that you will find a way to cultivate a passion for people in your life, and that that passion will spur you on to reach other people for Him.

That is it for this episode. I hope you enjoyed it and if you go over to the show notes, you can check out some of the resources that I’ve made available for you there. There will be links and everything there, as well as a place where you can connect with me on Facebook or Instagram or you can email me and I will talk to you next time.

Thanks for listening today. I hope you enjoyed this episode. If you did, head over to iTunes and leave a review because every rating and review that listeners like you leave on iTunes, helps other women find this podcast and discover how they can live their lives with grace. Don’t forget to subscribe while you’re there. If you have a question or comment about this episode, then go ahead and send me an email to [email protected] or you can connect with me over on Facebook or Instagram. I’d love to hear from you. Until then, I’ll see you next week.

Thanks for joining me!

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