I wrote in Following the Spirit :
Do not be self-absorbed in your in performance, but be present in love.
This has been an important word for me lately, because the problem described here has been a chronic problem in my spiritual life. Partially, this has to do with bridging the gap between what I know in my head and what I live out in my heart. The path from the former to the latter cannot be successfully walked using the thoughts and behaviors that have historically kept me in my own head.
It has been a recurring impulse for me lately to pray with people. And I do believe that desire is coming from something the Spirit is prompting. However, I have almost always not acted upon it because of the contexts in which that calling has been occurring involve people who haven’t seen that side of me. The tough part is, I need to either do it or don’t. Period. My tendency would be to freeze there in my anxiety about stepping out like that. And the ball-busting, hard answer is, do it or don’t. Because if I trail off out of peace and into self-focused anxiety, I will have nothing nothing to give that person. I will not have loved them. This is one of the two greatest commandments (Matthew 22:37-40), upon which “all the Law and Prophets depend…” So, I can not pray, and then focus on myself, and then fail to love, and it can also go the other way, I can pray and evangelize with that person, but if I am doing it because it gratifies my own impulses, I have still failed to love. In fact, that would almost be worse than saying nothing at all because then I would be just spreading my own personal religion.
Really listen and pay attention to the person you are interacting with. That is what God is telling me about love right now.
One final note. I don’t know the exact origin, but the quote is something like this:
“Every person is my superior in some way.”
That means remembering in every conversation that the person I am talking with is better at something than me. That they have a strength in some area where maybe I am weak. Maybe it’s something small. Maybe their life is otherwise a total mess by your assessment. Even if they are bitter, they still have their experience to offer, and you can learn from what they did with it, even if it was not good. You might then recognize a problem in your own life and deal with it before it gets so huge. Be careful when criticizing someone who has failed at more things than you’ve attempted. You might learn something about yourself.