The Joy of Acceptance

by Dawn Hamilton


During one of the difficult times our church was going through, one of the members confessed, "This class is the reason I'm still here." My husband and I have been lay directors of a group of 40 people, so we know how important small groups are to most people.

Coordinating discussions requires a lot of planning and dedication, but when we ask others to help us, we promote trust and proximity. People may irritate each other, but the satisfaction and joy of living the principles of 1 Corinthians 13 makes this leadership achievable and enjoyable.

Let's see how to achieve it

Here are some of the ways we help spread love and care:

  • Our instructors take our study very seriously. We are there to study God's Word. We start and finish on time. Although we share together before and after the study, lunch is the time when we enjoy each other's company the most.
  • We hold monthly Sabbath School Council meetings. This allows my husband and me to relate to other teachers and church leaders. Our general director promotes these meetings. He also invites different Sabbath School principals to have lunch with him several times a year. During these meetings we can discuss personal issues and issues that affect our class.
  • Some of our members look for sunnier sites during the winter months. We make sure to provide an up-to-date address list to each of our group members so those who are absent can receive up-to-date news from different points of view.
  • We provide a list of birthdays.
  • We plan meals in the park, group attendance at drama performances at our local academies and schools, weekend outings, special dinners, and visits to Christmas events. A commission distributes letters detailing activities several times a year to inform people of the events.
  • When the wife of one of our class members died, a group planned and coordinated lunch after the funeral. One of the members said, "Never before have I seen so much love. It has taught me much about what Christians should do for their fellowmen."

An important part of our group is ministry on behalf of the divorced, widowed, and single members. At least a quarter of our active members are single. Family camps, dinners, and parties for couples can make these members feel empty and out of place. Many of them have said, "We are grateful for this group." In addition to planning activities for them, we make sure that everyone has a means of transportation.

My husband and I are happy when single people, who would otherwise spend the festive season alone, accept our invitations. This helps us too. Instead of missing our children, who live far from home and can't visit us very often, we spend a pleasant afternoon and are happy to be able to help other people.

We try to make 1 Corinthians 13 the most important aspect of our class. The pastor has received positive feedback from other members of our church. One woman said, “When I hear about your class and your activities, I wish I could have the same thing.”

We all want to feel important and loved. No matter where we find this sustenance, we always wish to return.
Dawn Hamilton is the pseudonym of the author, who shares her real experience.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self- seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 CORINTHIANS 13:1-8, 13, NIV