“Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate
but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber.
But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.
The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice,
as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
When he has driven out all his own,
he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him,
because they recognize his voice.
But they will not follow a stranger;
they will run away from him,
because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.”
Although Jesus used this figure of speech,
the Pharisees did not realize what he was trying to tell them.
So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
I am the gate for the sheep.
All who came before me are thieves and robbers,
but the sheep did not listen to them.
I am the gate.
Whoever enters through me will be saved,
and will come in and go out and find pasture.
A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy;
I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”
In today’s Gospel, Christ speaks about the ability of His sheep to hear His voice and follow Him. This is an interesting lesson that we can use not only for deepening our relationship with Him, but also the people that we care about the most.
In order to know and understand the people around us, including Jesus, we need to spend time listening to them and getting to know their hearts. For God, this is spending time in prayer and getting to know Him and His work in our lives. With couples and friendships, this is spending quality time together.
Too often, I hear from couples in therapy that they have lost sight of each other and feel like strangers. When I ask about the quality time that they spend together in the form of date nights, they often say, “What date nights?” The quality of a date night is not in the food that we eat or the glamor of the restaurant but in the quality of conversation that takes place. For this same reason, a date night can happen at home with a pot of mac and cheese! Whether it is a date night with a spouse, a donut run with a child, or a night out with a friend, we need to engage in intentional conversation with each other.
It is easy to think that we fully know someone and we stop asking questions like, “What do you want to accomplish in this upcoming year?” or “When have you been the happiest in the last week?” While I love talking about the Browns on occasion, we need to engage in intentional conversations about what is going on in the hearts of the people closest to us. This week, consider having a few intentional conversations with your loved ones with the goal of learning more about the deeper areas of their heart!
How often do you intentionally engage in meaningful conversations with the people closest to you?
In what ways do you try to deepen your relationship with God or the people you care about?
How does spending quality time with someone contribute to understanding and knowing them on a deeper level?
Can you recall a time when you felt like you lost sight of a significant relationship in your life? What did you do to try and reignite that connection?
How can we balance our own desires and goals with the needs and wants of those we care about?
What are some practical ways you can apply the lesson of intentionally listening to others and getting to know their hearts in your relationships?
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