What is SELFLESS?
From the beginning of Jesus’ life, He demonstrated His deep love for us through a life of making others more important than himself. Jesus lived a SELFLESS life as an example for us to live to influence others. (Philippians 2:1-3)
One of the most important ways we are called to be SELFLESS to our world is by inviting others into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. SELFLESS is a new way of approaching prayer and evangelism. It’s a way of loving our community authentically through our everyday lives, and it’s done through eight simple missional practices. We invite you to live out SELFLESS with those around you.
Start With Prayer
Jesus came to save people who are lost and to help those who are hurting. As we seek to join Him in His mission, we start with prayer, recognizing we can only do this through God’s power.
Turn to God
Begin by asking God, “Where are You already at work?” “Where do You want me to join You in the work You are doing in my family, friends, and others You are seeking to draw toward Yourself?” “How do You want me to be SELFLESS to the people in these places You have sent me?”
Create a Prayer List
- Think about the people in your circles of influence (Friends, Relatives, Acquaintances, Neighbors, Co-workers) who need God.
- Make a Prayer List.
- Schedule a time to pray.
- Get alone.
- Pray a Prayer of Thankfulness.
- Pray over the names, asking God to draw you to 3-5 people to pray for daily. Write those names down.
- Ask God how you can pray for each person.
- Take time each day to pray for each person on this list.
- Memorize scripture to pray.
- Have a conversation. You do not have to sound spiritual.
- Be yourself!
- Pray out loud, silently, whatever is comfortable.
- On your knees, walking, standing, etc.
Engage in Conversation
In order to be selfless, we have to be willing to engage in conversations. Throughout Jesus’ ministry, He stopped what He was doing to engage in conversations by asking questions and loving them through the conversation.
Spiritual Conversation Starters
Jesus initiated conversation in many different situations throughout His ministry. In John 5:1-15, Jesus engaged in a conversation with the crippled beggar just like he did several other times. It was through that conversation that the beggar found salvation. If we are not willing to engage with our family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors are we showing the love of Christ? Here are a few ways to engage in conversation.
- Take the initiative to interact with someone.
- Recognize the initiative of others.
- Open your schedule to be interrupted.
- Be willing to be inconvenienced.
- Ask or state,
- “How is your day?” “Good morning” Good afternoon”
- “How can I pray for you?”
- “Is there anything I can do for you?”
- “Guess what I did this weekend.”
- “Have I ever told you about…”
- Did you know…. about me?”
Being SELFLESS means that you are willing to listen carefully before you speak. When people are heard and understood, they feel safe and valued. So, after engaging in a conversation, sincerely listen to what someone is saying. Also, listen for evidence of God’s work in their lives so that you can take part in the work God is already doing. Listen carefully. Jesus commanded us, “Consider carefully how you listen” (Luke 8:18). Listening is not a passive skill. It is not simply being quiet and letting the other person speak. It requires full attention, focused concentration, and careful thinking.
Ways to Listen
- Prepare your heart through prayer.
- Be fully present.
- Listen before you speak. “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion” (Proverbs 18:2). Similarly, “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame” (Proverbs 18:13).
- Block out the noise around you.
- Be patient.
- Humble yourself.
- Ask observant questions.
- Be aware of your body language.
To be SELFLESS with others means finding ways to share time and meals together. Through the simple act of fellowship, we practice hospitality, build community, and deepen relationships. Jesus commonly ate and drank with those He wanted to engage, such as Matthew, Zacchaeus, the Samaritan woman, and many others. We can be SELFLESS to others through missional hospitality.
Creative Ways to Fellowship Together
Here are some ways to fellowship with people who do not know God:
- Have dinner together at your home or a restaurant.
- Enjoy a cup of coffee together.
- Host a holiday party.
- Organize a block party or backyard neighborhood BBQ.
- Include others in your family celebrations.
- Try new restaurants together.
- Invite one person to one meal per week.
To love like Christ, you must love unconditionally. Loving unconditionally is easier said than done. It is easy to love those that are easy to love. But it is difficult when God asks you to love those who are annoying and who mistreat you repeatedly.
Love is an action that takes a lot of work. It is not just a feeling that is here today and gone tomorrow. It takes effort to keep and requires knowing who Jesus is so you can love others like He did. (John 13:34-35)
Ways to love unconditionally.
There are many of us going through life feeling alone. They may be surrounded by large crowds and people who care for them. They may even know logically that God is always with them. But they still feel isolated inside and quietly want a deeper connection with other people.
God desires that His disciples step into that gap and be His vessels of empathy for one another; able to humbly feel for and show tenderhearted compassion towards each other. (Ephesians 4:32)
One of the most powerful ways to be SELFLESS to others is to serve them. Jesus’ ministry was demonstrated by service (Matthew 20:28), and He showed the full extent of His love to His disciples by serving them (John 13:1-17). As a church, we can have a significant impact through service. As you listen deeply and build community with others, you will discover significant opportunities to serve them. As we freely and joyfully serve others, they will begin to experience the love of Jesus in authentic ways. God desires to show His love to others through you.
- Have dinner together.
- Serve through small acts of kindness.
- Volunteer to take care of a tangible need (cook a meal, babysit, help with yard work, etc.).
- Make their birthday special.
- Join a community service project with someone who is journeying toward God.
- Send a greeting card.
- Offer to pray.
- Give or lend something.
- Don’t miss the big needs – births, deaths, trials, sicknesses, and more.
- Allow others to serve you in love.
Share Your Story
Once you begin building relationships and earning trust, look for opportunities to be SELFLESS to others by sharing your story of how Jesus transformed your life. You do not need a script, and you don’t need a dramatic story. When you set Christ apart in your heart, you become different. You experience grace. You know what it is like to be forgiven. You know what it means to have a purpose. You handle your relationships differently than you once did. You make financial decisions differently than before. You approach career priorities differently than others. Your heart has grown for God’s mission to extend the whole gospel to the whole world. Jesus changes everything. You can tell the story.
Share Your Story
Here are some ways to be SELFLESS to others through sharing your story:
- BEFORE: Talk about your life before you committed to following Jesus. Tell someone what was missing in your life.
- DURING: Talk about how you committed to following Jesus. Talk about how you made that commitment and what you did.
- AFTER: Your story after you made your commitment to follow Jesus. Share about the difference that following Jesus has made in your life.
If your story doesn’t follow a before, during, and after pattern, talk about a time when God worked in your life, and you were changed or a time when you experienced an encounter with God. You can share that story using the same format outlined above.