Lessons Learned from the Driver’s Seat

Like a lot of Americans, I have a side hustle: I drive for Uber and Lyft in the Austin area. Working on my days off, late nights, or early mornings I have shuttled random passengers wherever they needed to go for nearly four years. Altogether, I have given almost 3,000 rides and have had all kinds of people in and out of my car!
I began rideshare driving after reading Joining Jesus on His Mission: How to Be an Everyday Missionary by Greg Finke. I was inspired by Finke’s compelling presentation of the call to be engaged in Gospel ministry as we go about our daily work. The problem for me is that 99% of what I do is with church people! I wondered, “How can I interact with the general population on a more regular basis?”
While I mostly set out to learn about others and the world outside of the church, I wound up learning a lot about myself. For example, I discovered that I really enjoy being treated as a regular person and having real conversations with people who had no idea I was a pastor! The anonymity of it all gives many passengers the freedom to open up about whatever is going on in their lives. And God has given me many opportunities to gently encourage and subtly share the Gospel.
But my biggest revelation about myself was much less pleasant. God revealed to me that I had a far more judgmental heart than I had ever realized. I had wondered how I would respond to and relate with people who had a very different worldview than my own. I found that being kind to and respectful of people from all different walks of life came naturally. Unfortunately, I discovered I had real hard time with men going to or coming from a strip club. Resentment, anger, and a flood of emotions I don’t even have words for welled up inside me as I turned into the parking lot for my first pickup just before 5 on the Monday morning after Mother’s Day. What would I say to this man? I chose to say nothing at all and drove the customer home in silence. Then came the conviction of my own sin. I realized that morning that something was wrong with me and probably many other Christians as well: I did not see that man as Jesus saw him.
When Jesus saw the crowds, he saw the people and all their problems. In Matthew 9 we read that “he felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd.” If I had a heart more like Jesus, I would have had a heart full of compassion for that passenger instead of judgment. Since that morning, God has given me several more opportunities to develop my capacity for compassion! While I am far from perfect, I do feel God working in and through me as he continues to mold and shape me. How is God calling you to step out in faith to love people like Jesus? There is a whole world full of people who need Jesus. God has chosen you and me to be his messengers in the world and deliver the precious treasure of the Gospel. Will you go when and where God calls? Will you see people as God sees? Will you love as Jesus loves? What lessons will you learn as you join Jesus on his mission?
Pastor Bryce Formwalt is the Director of Mission Growth for LCMC Texas District and Program Director of Harvest Workers, an online ministry training program (learn more at www.harvestworkers.net). Residing in Georgetown, Pastor Bryce is available to coach congregations on mission. Feel free to contact him with any questions or comments: 512-942-7776 ext. 2 or bryce@lcmctexas.org.