I have a love-hate relationship with name tags I hate wearing them- the magnetic kind that pulls on your clothing or the sticky kind that leaves a film on your clothing; but I love when other people wear them because I am horrible with names (unless you are one of my board members, a favorite person, or someone I have known for at least 10 years). I try and get out of wearing name tags every chance I get.
This last week was our annual meeting and it is overflowing with name tags people, food and speakers. It was a standard Farm Bureau meeting- farmers and ranchers and food! For the first time in about five years I was able to sit in on the keynote speaker. It was a great talk and I've been thinking about it how one small comment or point made by a speaker is reinforced through other conversations, observations or things you read in your Bible. Our speaker planned to make an impact in the members and agents or at least make them think but I don’t think he ever imagined that God would use a story and point he gave to make a point or to reiterate what God had been trying to tell me.
The point was don’t judge others. It’s not my job- it’s His. We are so busy as a society that we label everyone. I do it on a daily basis- sometimes not in a judgmental way but I am always labeling or categorizing people. For example- my friend Christi she has been an inspiration to me through the way she is raising her family and all that she has accomplished in her life. She’s tall, like 6 ft but I don’t call her my tall friend Christi- she’s my vegetarian-friend- Christi I have my Cochise people, my Yuma people, my Church friends, my book club ladies, Bible Study ladies, youth group kids, and the groups go on. It’s not bad to group or label people sometimes- it helps keep them straight in my head.
It’s wrong to label or group people when you are being dismissive of them or think they won’t understand or that they are too far to the left, right, or just not like you. In his talk, Matt told the story of meeting a lady on a plane that definitely wasn't like him and was hoping that he wouldn't have to talk to her. Fortunately they ended up talking and he made a friend for agriculture. He encouraged us to reach out and talk to the people that don’t look, act, or (eat) like us. We might make a friend or supporter of agriculture. That’s my passion- helping promote and protect agriculture. I love the life and people. I miss getting up at 2 am and checking heifers during calving season, I miss riding and gathering cattle off the mountain, I miss feeding cattle when it’s 5 below and your nose hairs are frozen and you can’t really feel your fingers, I miss working cattle in mud in the corral because that’s what you do. I would trade my life now for that in a heartbeat but we need the city people (my neighbors) to help us. We are a small population of people and we need our city friends and family to understand why we do what we do.
But here’s the lesson I've been thinking about. Yes, in agriculture we need to reach out and talk to those that aren't like us- we need them and I am willing to do that because I love agriculture and they need agriculture to survive. But from my faith standpoint- why am I not willing to talk to people who aren't like me. I spent the week of youth camp this summer working in the inner city of Santa Fe, in a community that for the large part doesn't believe in God and doesn't have a relationship with Jesus. It scared me. I was not comfortable with it. But why don’t I have the same attitude and passion to talk about my faith that I do when I talk about agriculture? You spend five minutes with me (30 seconds if you see me drive up) and you know I am passionate about ag but it takes 30 minutes or more for you to know I love Jesus. Shouldn't it be the other way around?
Instead of thinking of new leadership training for my members or a easier way to train them in a skill or give them information when I go to sleep, I should be thinking of ways to reach out to others.All of these thoughts culminated when Matt was telling his story. We need to be outside of our comfort zone to make a difference. We may get rejected and we may lose people along the way but we need to keep moving forward and keep sharing our story- weather that is agriculture, faith or our passion but eventually someone will say the right words to reach the right person who will then become sold out to the cause. We may just be the person who plants the seed not the person who reaps the harvest.