Once a church had fallen upon hard times. Only five members were left: the pastor and four others, all over 60 years old.
In the mountains near the church there lived a retired Bishop. It occurred to the pastor to ask the Bishop if he could offer any advice that might save the church. The pastor and the Bishop spoke at length, but when asked for advice, the Bishop simply responded by saying, “I have no advice to give. The only thing I can tell you is that the Messiah is one of you.”
The pastor, returning to the church, told the church members what the Bishop had said. In the months that followed, the old church members pondered the words of the Bishop. “The Messiah is one of us?” they each asked themselves. As they thought about this possibility, they all began to treat each other with extraordinary respect on the off chance that that one among them might be the Messiah. And on the off, off chance that each member himself might be the Messiah, they also began to treat themselves with extraordinary care.
As time went by, people visiting the church noticed the aura of respect and gentle kindness that surrounded the five old members of the small church. Hardly knowing why, more people began to come back to the church. They began to bring their friends, and their friends brought more friends. Within a few years, the small church had once again become a thriving church. That was the Bishop’s gift.
There are a number of lessons this story has given me.
Firstly, it reminded me of one of Wayne Dyer’s sayings, “You do not attract what you want, you attract what you are.”
Secondly, it reminded me that people don’t just listen to the words or messages that you say, they watch what you do and who you are. Your true message lies in your being and—as an extension of that—your doing. This is especially true when it comes to teaching children. Children do as you do, not as you say. They learn by modelling a behaviour they observe in you. So if you would like to teach your children kindness and compassion, start by being kind and compassionate to them.
Thirdly, it reminded me the power of beliefs. The bishop planted an idea in the pastor’s mind that one of the people in his congregation is the Messiah. That belief was what changed the behaviour of the remaining people in the congregation. It changed how they treated each other, which in turn drew more of others to return to the church. It was never proven that there was a Messiah amongst them but the fact remains that that belief alone changed how people treated each other.
What are your thoughts? What are the lessons that you have learned from reading this story?