If Mother Teresa Didn’t See Crowds, What Did She See?
Mother Teresa experienced a lifetime of helping others and impacting lives in countless ways. She built hospice centers, orphanages, and centers for the blind and disabled (among MUCH more). She cared for and served the needs of people who hospitals refused to admit, providing them with an honorable passing of life.
Living among filth and disease while bringing aid to those in need, Teresa saw tremendous poverty and neglect. She cared for and loved on those who were forgotten and abandoned. Through her, they gained hope and dignity.
She was once asked how she was able to look past the overwhelm that can come while helping the broken masses in her work. In response, she said;
This quote is the very quote that inspired this Year of Listening Up topic: See Individuals, Not Crowds.
Having Empathy to Look Past the Crowds
Mother Teresa had a unique ability for sure. Much of that is probably due to her upbringing. It may also have been a result of God’s ordering in her life. At the age of eight, her father died suddenly.
The family went from one of wealth to one of struggle and despair.
This event may have given her an ability to know and express empathy in an exceptional way. In addition to empathy, though, her worldview was strongly formed. Despite the family’s lack of resources, they continued serving others with whatever means they could.
Entering into adulthood, she began training to become missionary. Dedicating her life to building God’s kingdom while serving, she saw the individual, not the crowd.
So, when she saw need, she didn’t see “that dying man in the busy street.” She instead saw “Michael, who is dying and needs help.”
Teresa didn’t see “yet another abandoned child.” She saw “little Sally, who could thrive while growing up in a loving home.”
Instead of a “hopeless chronically ill,” she saw a friend, brother, uncle – a cherished loved one – who deserved more than to die cold and alone.
Modeling Mother Teresa for Seeing the Individual, Not the Crowd
Another quote sometimes (though it might be falsely) attributed to Mother Teresa is:
Whether she said it or not, the lesson is appropriate. It’s one I need to better adapt into my own life.
You see, I’m one of the worst offenders when it comes to pigeonholing people according to my first impression of them. I find myself immediately taking into account all their mannerisms, behaviors, attitudes, quirks, etc. and categorizing them.
It’s really quite unfair. I’m aware of that flaw and have much to learn when it comes to grace.
I long to serve others and serve them well. It’s what God has commanded and destined me to do. But I too often get into my own way. I took often make opinions and assumptions about people based upon what I have experienced in while meeting other people of the crowd.I never really serve the individual, because I never truly see or hear the individual. Click To Tweet
I’m too busy deciding what I THINK that individual needs or desires.
What about you? Do you see the individual, or are you busy assigning them to a crowd? Ready to work on it? I know I am!
About Chad Gramling
Chad Gramling makes his home in Indiana with his wife and three daughters. He's the founder and primary blogger at 1Glories, a vision cast onto his heart and detailed in Listen Up Kids: Foolish Dreams, Syncing with God & Running to Win.