There's this really beautiful verse in Luke 8. It says that she realized she could not go unnoticed. And that verse changed my perspective. Here's this woman who is desperate, and Jesus, even though he's surrounded by a crowd of people, is going to notice her.
And she knows he's not going to let her go unnoticed. That's Pastor Kyle Eitelman, touching on the way that Jesus influenced one person at a time. And he'll be offering insights today on Focus on the Family.
Your host is Focus President and author Jim Daly, and I'm John Fuller. John, I can remember a lot of times that someone came along in my life and just was the right person at the right time to encourage me in some way. One of those guys, I can remember, I had just given my life to the Lord.
Things are a mess. People know that story. And I was living with my brother and his teen bride, and it just was a bit of chaos. And I remember it was Teen Challenge. I think they had a place in Riverside, California, called The Castle.
And people in jail, prisoners would come and do music. And I remember just talking to this guy, African American guy, walked up to him. He just poured into me and talked about, you know, the right way to go in life. He became kind of a letter writer to me. We probably exchanged four or five letters together. And he was just a super encourager and just caught me at the very right time when I was looking for some guidance.
How about you? I would think for me, one of the things that comes to mind is a gal that worked in radio. Her name was Sue Jacoris. And we would call her from my job. We would call her and talk to her while she was doing her afternoon shift. And at one point she said, John, I hear a smile in your voice. Have you ever thought of doing radio? That kind of led me to this point all these years later.
But it was that word at that time. And she kind of encouraged me along the way in that process. Now the question becomes, have we been doing that? Have we kind of paid it forward with people in our lives?
I hope so. I try to. I try to be mindful of that. Connect, especially with younger leadership and to talk with them about what it means to be a Christian leader, et cetera. It's easy to wonder if we're taking the time and the energy to be available to others, especially when you've got a busy schedule, you've got to start prioritizing. But 1 John 3, 17, 18 says, but if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?
Well, there's a fundamental question. He goes on to say, little children, let us not love in word or talk, but in deed and in truth. And that's a great message for the church today in every direction. It's so important to realize that if we aren't reaching those around us that seem hard to love, especially, we're kind of missing the point of the gospel.
Yeah. And I think God gives us opportunities every day. We'll hear a little bit more from the heart of Pastor Kyle Eitelman. He's the senior pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. He's a frequent speaker and an author, and has written a book about his own experiences in learning this kind of a lesson. It's called One at a Time, The Unexpected Way God Wants to Use You to Change the World. And we'll encourage you to get a copy from us here at Focus on the Family.
The link is in the show notes. Kyle, welcome for the first time to Focus on the Family. Great to have you.
Thank you. Good to be here. I listen to you guys often. We love to hear that. Yeah, that's true. Sometimes you're on podcasts and you've never heard it before, but both of your voices are familiar to me.
So thanks for having me on. Hey, when your daughter was two years old, you had a scary experience with her. What happened, and what kind of vision did that give you? It's always good to learn from your kids, right?
Yeah, it is. Well, and, you know, your kids teach you how God not only sees you, but how he sees others. And really, becoming a father helped me see the world differently, see the world and see other people through the lens of God as a father. And so when my daughter was two, I came home from work, and she had been taking a nap.
And one of my favorite things to do as a dad was to wake them up from their nap. You know, it's just a really sweet time. That's not a good thing to do.
Let me tell you. It's not good when they're a teenager. They get a little cranky. Yeah, you don't want to wake them up from a nap when they're a teenager, but when they're two, it's pretty sweet.
You can get away with it. Yeah, you know, they're excited to see you and are ready to wake up and play. And so I went up to her room, opened the door to wake her up, and she wasn't in her bed. And then I quickly noticed that a chest of drawers was on the ground, and she had climbed up on this chest of drawers and fallen over on top of her. And I yelled for my wife, and I picked up the chest of drawers, and she was nonresponsive and already swollen and black and blue, didn't really look like herself. And I scooped her up in my arms, and we tried to call 911 several times. Nobody picked up, and it was kind of this moment of panic. We got in the car, headed towards the hospital.
My wife was in the back seat with her. I remember very vividly driving while I could hear my wife praying over her, and I felt God's presence in a way that I hadn't before in my life. She would go on to make a full recovery, but recognizing, okay, the way I see her is the way God sees people all around me, as sons and daughters. There's this beautiful story in Luke 8, where the woman with the issue of blood tries to stay hidden in a crowd, and this woman thinks, if I can just touch him, I'll be healed.
And so she reaches out. Jesus knows that power has gone out from him, and so he stops everything. And there's this really beautiful verse in Luke 8, it says of the woman that she realized she could not go unnoticed. And that verse changed my perspective.
It changed the lens through which I thought of impact and influence, that here's this woman who is desperate, and Jesus, even though he's surrounded by a crowd of people, is going to notice her, and she knows he's not going to let her go unnoticed. And then, when he sees her, he says to her, daughter. He calls her daughter. And when I read that in Luke 8, it reminded me of that moment as a father, and how Jesus sees this woman in Luke 8. It's how I was thinking of my daughter in this desperate moment. That was my focus.
That was what I cared about in that moment. And Jesus had that heart for this woman, and he refers to her as daughter, which would have been very unusual, if not inappropriate, for a rabbi to refer to a woman in such an intimate, personal term. But that's how he saw her. And when he saw her, he knew everything about her. He knew the journey that she had been on, the experiences that she had had, and he speaks to her in a way that helps us understand his one-at-a-time heart for people.
Yeah. I've often thought about that, how much marriage and then parenting reflects God. I mean, he puts these simple things together for us to know him, to experience him. And even if you're a non-believer and you're loving your children, that's a character of God for us.
And it's built into our heart, as everybody's made in the image of God. You have a story about a family at your church who wanted to celebrate their daughter's cancer recovery. And I believe you went, but they did it at a different church. Tell us what happened.
Yeah. So, I had a leader in our church who's been a friend of mine for a while. His name is Dennis, and he and his family had been on a pretty long journey with a daughter that they had adopted, who not long after the adoption was diagnosed with a pretty serious form of cancer. We had prayed with him and kind of walked with them through all of this. And one day, I get a text from him and it says, hey, she is cancer-free. We're going to throw a party to celebrate it.
You're invited. And then it had the location. And it wasn't at our church, it was at a church down the road.
And I'm like, well, that's weird. Why aren't we celebrating this at our church, at his church? And so I texted him back and like, hey, man, I'll be there.
I wouldn't want to miss this. So happy for you. Got to ask, why aren't we hosting this party? And he was really gracious about it. He just said, well, there was a little too much red tape. There was a little too much red tape. And we just decided to do it at this church down the road. It was just a little easier. And I appreciated him being gracious, but immediately I'm like, how did that happen?
And so I went and I talked to some of our folks that are in charge of facilities. And these are people who I know love Jesus. Many of them have sacrificed so that they can serve the church in this way. So I know that they are well-intended.
They are not against celebrating four-year-old girls who recover from cancer. They would not have that heart. So I went to try to understand it and they talked to me about there are just so many requests and we sort of have this philosophy that if we can't do it for everyone, then it's not something we can do. And I understood practically how a decision like that gets made. The problem, of course, is that it doesn't at all reflect the gospel.
That's not the heart of Jesus. And so we talked a little bit more about what's a different approach that we can have. And so they came up with this value of we want to do for one what we wish we could do for everyone. And I love that. And they began doing that in some really practical ways. For example, at one of our campuses, they started a type of valet parking for some people who needed to park closer than our handicapped spots would allow. And it wasn't very practical, right? But that's what you do for the one. And as a church, we just began to say, we wanna be known for these stories.
We want that to be how we're identified. It's impractical. It doesn't always make sense, but that's a lot of the gospels.
No, it's so good. In your book, One at a Time, and obviously the big narrative is reach the person right in front of you, right? What does the Lord want you to do in that relationship? And that's a great piece of advice because so often we're thinking we gotta do something bigger, something more impactful. But One at a Time really makes it happen for all of us. If every Christian were doing this, think of the impact that would be. But you do caution Christians to make sure that you let God work in us before He works through us. What are you getting at? Well, for me, as a pastor in the ministry for a long time, I defined influence and impact by what God was doing through me.
And I would pray prayers that would focus on, God, what great things do you wanna do through me? And I think they were well-intended. I like the question. Yeah, I think it was not... I don't think it was selfish.
I'm sure some of it was. But for the most part, I think it was a desire to be used by God to influence and impact people. And what I've discovered over the years is that God often wants to do, I would even say always wants to do some things in you first, and then out of what He's doing in you, He'll do some things through you to reach people, to impact people, to impact people.
Your story is a good reflection of this, right? You go through some difficult challenges and struggles as a child and growing up, and now God uses you to help people one at a time in that way. And so I think all of us have some ways that God has worked or wants to work in us so that He can do His work through us. But if we'll shift our prayers from, God, what do you wanna do through me today, to God, what are you wanting to do in me today, I've just learned that that prayer in you leads to the through you.
Yeah, and I think in that context, I appreciate you raising that, because I think Gene taught me a couple of great lessons. I mean, one of the things I would say, because you move through those points of pain, and then you're on the other side, you see how God has used it in your own life. So you can be quick to the trigger like Romans 828, oh, He'll work all things for good for those who love Him, right? And if you say that too quickly to a hurting person, that only adds soreness to the wound, let me say it that way. You have to have maturity to know that person's gonna need to walk a bit through that pain valley before they can begin to understand God can work all things. So that's what you're talking about in maturity, I would think as well, just letting God work in you so that you can help others.
But timing and saying the right word at the right time is really critical. Yeah, that's a good reminder to have our eyes open to the people around us and to be able to pour out of our pain into other people at their point of need. This is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly, and our guest today is Kyle Eitelman, and he's written a terrific book, it's called One at a Time, the Unexpected Way God Wants to Use You to Change the World. And we'd encourage you to get a copy from us here at Focus on the Family.
The link is in the show notes or call 800, the letter A and the word family. Kyle, this is so funny. I love these funny stories that authors write about, and we could pull it out of the book. But you talked about skiing with your son and you learned a lesson between sympathy and compassion. This is something I would have done.
Tell me what happened. My son and I go on an annual ski trip for a few days, and I ski within my limits. I'm pretty careful. He goes as quickly as he can down the mountain, and we were at Keystone.
I was giving him my lectures. We went up towards the top on the lift. Hey, careful, safety. Don't go in the trees.
Pizza, pizza, pizza. Yes, yes. When you put your skis together. Yes, I snowplow all the way down for me. But he's not as careful. So we get to the top, and he starts flying down the mountain, and I'm making my way down. He's quickly out of sight. And as I'm going down, I see a guy off to the side who is just sprawled out. His skis are off.
His poles are in a different direction. And I think, ah, I hate that. Poor guy. That is a rough way to start the day. In my heart, I feel sympathy for him. But that's about it. And as I get a little bit closer, I realize, oh, that's my son.
And I go over there as quickly as I can. And he snapped his clavicle. He broke his collarbone. That is a hard way to start the day. Yeah, it was a hard way to start the day. But in that moment, nothing else really mattered. I was going to make sure he was taken care of.
I was going to do something about it. And, you know, this is the difference between having sympathy and being compassionate. You know, compassion is not just a feeling.
It's an action. It's interesting in the Gospels, the most commonly attributed emotion to Jesus is compassion. Like, he had all kinds of emotions. But compassion is the primary emotion he felt, which is fascinating because most of our emotions come from what we experience, what's happening to us.
If you think about your emotions, it's typically you're sad, you're happy, you're angry because of what's happening to you. The primary emotion that Jesus felt was based on what happened to other people. Yeah, so often the word says he had compassion. He had compassion. Yeah, and what's interesting too in that is the word that often follows this compassion description of Jesus is the word and.
Almost always there's an and. Jesus had compassion and he healed and he fed and he prayed. Jesus had compassion and. So compassion always has an and to it. It's not just feeling a certain way.
It's doing something about it. And one of the things I've learned about myself personally, I know it's true for a lot of believers, is that we have compassion or we have these feelings of compassion and we feel good about ourselves because we feel a certain way, you know, because we feel sorry or we feel sympathy, but we don't actually do anything about it. And so the real test of compassion, the real test of being able to tell one at a time stories is to ask, is there an and here? Am I doing something about it or am I just feeling a certain way?
Yeah, you know, we started the program talking about people that encouraged you and me, John, and the power of words spoken to one another. You had that experience when you were a little boy. I think you got glasses. I was also a little boy with glasses. I think bullying has only gotten worse.
I doubt it's gotten any better. So we probably experienced the same kind of chides in school, you know, four eyes. I never quite understood what that actually, but, you know, all the little barbs that kids throw at each other. So what was your story and how did your teacher actually give you encouragement?
Yeah, it's interesting when you reverse engineer, how people have influenced you one at a time, the things you remember, you guys did that as you shared it. And for me, this was one of those moments. I was in the third grade. I had just got glasses, was very self-conscious, big ears, buck teeth. Now you add the glasses to that.
And I walked into my third grade classroom and a number of the kids started laughing at me. And listen, the glasses my parents picked out for me were rough. They were like the Sally Jesse Raphael glasses, you know, big.
Bigger than your face. Right. They were probably the cheapest ones on the wall.
And that's what I got. So I walked in and kids started laughing at me. I remember a few kids kind of pointing and my teacher, Mrs. Zeese was her name. She had this moment where everybody got quiet and she said, I think you look like Clark Kent. And it just changed, you know, everything for me that in that moment where I felt so self-conscious and she just with one sentence, you know, took all of that off of me.
And that stuck with me throughout that year when I put those glasses on. And I, you know, the Bible talks about this, that it's not just the right word. It's the right word from the right person at the right time that can have incredible impact. And one of the ways that's happened for me is when somebody says, you know, Kyle, here's something I see in you. And learning to start some sentences with I see in you and then and then recognize some things, you know, point out some things that are specific to their character or unique to the way God made them. I had an eighth grade teacher after Sunday school class one day.
He was an accountant. Had me stay after Sunday school class and just said to me, hey, I see in you somebody that God's going to use to have an impact in this world. And maybe in fact, I would guess he did that for most of the kids in the class. He was probably just my turn, right? But I believed it. I believed it when he said it.
I was, you know, an awkward teenager. And to have somebody pull me aside and just say, hey, I see this in you was really impactful for me. And that can go both directions.
I mean, it can be that positive word. We've talked about that our own experiences. It can also be a negative experience that communicates something. You had a story about a prisoner. And I think he had a photograph in prison. And tell us that story because to me, that's a great example of some things not to do.
I was visiting a prison, having a time to share with some of the inmates there. And afterwards, a guy came up to me who, you know, it was pretty intimidating. He's kind of this big guy with tattoos going up his neck. And, you know, the kind of person that if you ran into him on the road, you'd just be a little nervous.
Like, I don't want to do anything to upset this guy. And he came to speak to me afterwards. And he had his Bible with him. And he pulled a photograph out of his Bible. And he showed it to me. And he asked me, do you notice anything in this picture?
Handed it to me. And I looked at that. That's looking at it was him in his driveway, holding a beer can up to the camera. And I looked at it. I didn't really see anything that I could tell he wanted me to see it.
I kept staring at it. And then I finally noticed in the background, it was a little faded, but there was a church across the street from where he lived in the picture in the picture. Small church. I was just right across the street. And I said, handed it back to him. I said, you lived across the street from a church. And he said, Yeah, for seven years, I lived across the street from the church. I knew where the conversation was going.
Like, I knew it. And I instinctively apologized before he told me what the story was. I said, I am sorry. And he said, why didn't anybody ever come over and just talk to me?
Why didn't anybody ever invite me? And the only time he had any interaction with the people in that church was if his grass got a little bit too long and they'd leave a note in his mailbox. And he was asking me why.
At first, I thought it was a rhetorical question because to me, the answer seemed obvious. I knew why. But he was genuinely trying to understand. And I explained to him that they were scared.
That they were afraid of saying the wrong thing or being rejected or they were busy and distracted. And he was just so confused because he had found a life in Jesus that he had been so desperately searching for. And for seven years, he lived across the street from a church, watched people walk in carrying the same Bible that he now holds that changed his life.
And, you know, he didn't understand why no one walked across the street. It's a good picture to imagine for people around us, right, to think of him. And that could be that opportunity for that person to avoid a lot of pain and to become a believer in Christ before the big challenges occur. You have a story also in the book about Randy and how he challenged you to love those who are hard to love. What was Randy's story?
Randy was a young boy in the very first church I preached at. It's called Christ Church of Perseverance. There's a church that just welcomes all.
Yes. And after I was there for a while, I understood the name of that church a little bit more. But I loved those people. And it was a church of maybe 30 or 40 folks.
I was 19 or 20 at the time. And there was this boy that would get dropped off at church, but his parents would never come. And he would just cause me all kinds of problems, was always running around and being a distraction and lots of energy and no discipline. And one day I was up preaching and I could see out in the lobby where he was running around.
There were these glass panel doors between the sanctuary and the lobby. I could see him running around. In the middle of my sermon, he took what turned out to be a matchbox car and he chucked it out the window or at the door and the glass broke.
And I was done with Randy. My wife and I took him after church and we went to his house and he lived in this trailer parked behind the church. And I was going to tell his mom, hey, he can't keep coming by himself.
You're going to have to come with him. And she meets us right outside the door and she is angry. What did that blankety blank do now?
And she's just going off on him. And I kind of looked into that trailer. I could see where there was a bed on the couch, pillow and blankets. And I just kind of knew that's where Randy slept and this was the home that he was in. And in that moment, I loved Randy. My heart just changed completely. Immediately I'm talking to the mom and I'm like, hey, you've got a special one here. Just having the opportunity to hear enough of his story, it changed the way that I saw him. I said to his mom, we'd love to have you come too.
If you do, I've got a sermon waiting on you. But we were hoping that she would come. She never did, but he kept coming.
And the love that we had for him changed because we took the time to understand a little bit of what was going on in his life. Which is what he was looking for, actually. Even through his desperate deeds, he was looking for affirmation, affection, love. He wanted to not go unnoticed.
He wanted to be seen. That's so good. And you've done such a great job with this book one at a time. And you really encourage us to set aside all those distractions and love on that one person. It's a great reminder. It's what the Spirit of God would want us to do, I fully believe. So thank you so much for being with us and talking to us about this.
Great to be with you. Thank you. And for the listeners and viewers, I would encourage you to get a copy of this.
We'll make it easy. If you can just send us a gift of any amount, we'll send it to you as our way, saying thank you for supporting the ministry. All the proceeds go right back into ministry.
There's no profits that we share here. It just goes right back to the ministry. So get Kyle's great book one at a time through Focus on the Family. And I would encourage you to apply it. I'd start a little journal that sometimes helps. It would help me.
What did the Lord do today when I worked out of his character and not mine and showed kindness to somebody? So get your copy today. Yeah, our number is 800, the letter A in the word family, 800-232-6459. And again, the book is called One at a Time. Stop by and donate.
The link is in the show notes. Well, I hope you have a restful weekend and that you join us on Monday when Miles Metler asks the question, what kind of message are you sending to your children? If we're continually criticizing or condemning our kids and complaining about them, they don't stop loving us. They stop loving themselves.
And that's not a good place to be. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once again, help you and your family thrive in Christ. The Adventures in Odyssey club could be your best adventure yet. Learn more and start your free trial at adventuresinodyssey.com slash radio.
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