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Mother diedI believe it was in a lecture by Stephen Covey, entitled “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” that I heard the following story, which he was relating to the audience in order to demonstrate a paradigm shift: Stephen (if that’s who it was) was riding a bus to work one morning in New York. The bus was crowded, and opposite him was another man with several small children. The children were very unruly, running around, bumping into and disturbing other passengers, and making loud noises. In his mind Stephen was criticizing the father of the small children: “What is wrong with this man? Why can’t he keep his children under control? Why is he staring out the window as if he doesn’t even care? Doesn’t he know his kids are bothering everyone? I wish he would just get off the bus now!” While Stephen was thinking these things, the father turned and said to him, “I’m very sorry for my children’s behavior. They were up very late last night, not getting much sleep at the hospital. Their mother died just a few hours ago, and we’re on our way home.” Suddenly Stephen’s whole view changed from criticizing, despising, and disgust, to sympathizing, caring, and reaching out to offer assistance. The father’s timid opening with those words “mother died” caused Stephen to have a paradigm shift.

In the same way that this father of small children opened his situation to Stephen, Christians must learn how to fellowship. Fellowship brings in a healthy, sweet, relationship among the members of the Body of Christ. Without fellowship we are likely to remain in our critical thought and distorted view of one another. But when we have genuine fellowship, superiority complex is nullified as well as inferiority complex, we view others the same as ourselves, and the door is open for the giving and receiving of care, for the building up together in love, and for the impact in our testimony and our fruit-bearing (John 15:12-17).