Published May 26, 2015

Shelia Shares....
"Welcomed & Welcoming"

Some years ago, we went to a Southern Gospel breakfast event. When we walked into the room, there were a lot of tables and people seated at several of them. We smiled and greeted people as we looked around for a seat.

We knew a lot of the people in the room. At one table, we saw a singing group that we knew by name only and a gentleman and woman who we had never seen before. There were two empty seats at the table, so I asked Paul if it was alright to sit there.

We asked permission to join them and seated ourselves. The breakfast food was good and the people at our table were so much fun. Through that meeting, we made lifelong friends who we treasure yet today.

There are often choices to be made. Do we gravitate to the popular and those who can advance our careers? Do we expect others to cater to us? Do we get out of our comfort zones and meet new people? Do we reach out to those who are new to the industry? In the broader sense, do we reach out to people who are new to the church?

God didn't put us on earth so we could get all that we can get — financial, status, position, power.

Acts 10:34 reads: "Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, ‘Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons.'"

This verse is speaking about God willing to give salvation to anyone who asks regardless of who that person is. But, I think it can also refer to our attitude to people we meet.

I remember reading once that we should enter a room as though we are the host or hostess wanting to make our guests feel comfortable and welcomed. That means we take the first step towards them. That means we don't worry about what someone else is doing for us, but what we can do for another person. That means we reach out to someone who is in need of a friend.

I remember another event that we attended. Paul was interviewing so I went ahead into the reception. Sonya Isaacs Yeary was close to the door and paused to talk with me. I was so intimidated with this large crowd of people who knew each other and were laughing and chatting that I panicked. Sonya tried at length to speak with me and I could barely answer anything. I was frozen with fear. I'll never forget that effort she made to befriend me.

Finally, I spotted a seat by Tim Lovelace. I approached the table and asked if I could sit with him. Gentleman that he is, he stood and pulled out my chair and drew me into the conversation at the table. Following his lead, the rest of the people at the table made me feel comfortable and it was an enjoyable time.

Sometimes we are the ones who need to feel the welcome. Sometimes we are the ones who need to welcome others. Step out of your comfort zone. Make the first move to speak to others. Philippians 2:3 says, "In humility consider others better than yourselves." In that way, you will show the Holy Spirit within and bring glory to the Father.

- Shelia

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