“What do you want?”
In Jerusalem, Jesus came to the Pool of Bethesda. Known to be a place of healing, people with diseases and disabilities gathered along its edge waiting for the water to be mysteriously stirred. According to tradition, the first person into the swirling water would be healed.
Jesus moved among the blind, and lame, and paralyzed. His eyes rested on a man, alone, older than most, gaze fixed on the water. Jesus, who knew the hearts of men, knew he had been coming to this pool for a long time. He had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.
Jesus paused by this man and asked him a question.
“Do you want to be healed?”
I would think the man would answer in one definitive “Yes!” But that’s not what the man did. Instead he explained why he hadn’t been healed.
“Sir, I’m all alone. There is no one to help me get into the pool when the water is stirred. While I’m struggling to get down to the pool, someone always gets in front of me.”
Jesus looked beneath the excuses. He saw the man’s heart. He saw the years of pain, and marginalization, and struggle. He saw that he had put his hope in a pool, and in mercy Jesus spoke healing over him.
“Get up, take up your bed, and walk.”
At once the crooked useless legs straightened and strengthened. The man, an invalid for thirty-eight years, picked up his mat and walked.
Too many times leaders fail to follow the example of Jesus. We don’t ask the people we’re serving whether or not they really want our help. We don’t ask them, “What do you want?”
Last week I met with a man who works for one of my favorite organizations. Knowing of my passion to help women root their true identity in Christ, develop an intimate relationship with Christ, and impact the world through Christ, he wanted to meet with me. He asked me, “Cindy, how do you think we can better serve the needs of women?”
Although I have some ideas, my immediate answer was simple. “Ask them.”
Like the man by the pool, it may take women some time to really get to the root of what they want. They may need to peel back layers of excuses and identify what really hinders them. They may need to gain trust that our desire really is to help. They may be jaded by people who have offered hope and even healing, but lack the power to make it happen.
Unlike Jesus, we don’t have the ability to see perfectly into the heart. We can’t read thoughts or perceive motive. But we can ask the people we are serving, “What do you want?”
By asking people what they want we:
- Show that we want to serve them, rather than advance our agenda.
- Help them identify their real need, rather than meet a false need.
- Build their sense of ownership for their own healing, rather than doing their work for them.
In your sphere of influence, your family, your church, your workplace, follow Jesus’ example and try asking the people you serve, “What do you want?” Let me know what happens.