14 "I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish."
Romans 1:14 (ESV)
As humans we have a tendency to label other people as we meet them, or even just see them. We pin them as certain types and instantly think we know who they are, how they act and what they like.
This happens all the time and sometimes without notice when we people-watch at airports, parks and shopping centers. But, it also can happen more regularly with a classmate, peer, teacher, or even a teammate. We write off and treat people differently based on the very little information we might know about them. Maybe we assume they wouldn't want to hear something or they would definitely not be interested in what we are interested in. Is that a way to live? To lead?
Thankfully, the apostle Paul didn't do this (and neither should we!), or who knows how the church would have spread so rapidly throughout the world in the first century. He understood that his calling and his ministry was a mission appointed to him by God (Romans 1:1). It was God’s message, not Paul’s. This eliminated stereotypes, preconceptions, and misjudging. Paul knew he had an "obligation" to ALL, not just to the ones he thought he could reach or vibe with! In fact, Paul would adapt to the people he was interacting with in order to reach more people with the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). He ultimately knew God would have the final say and could reach even the hardest of hearts because Paul had been one of them.
This mindset is a great model for us as students, leaders and as people in general. We need to fight the urge to pre-label others, especially teammates and peers — the people we could have the most influence with. We have an obligation to reach out, converse and lead ALL on our teams, not just those we share interests with.
This becomes especially true with the gospel message God has entrusted to us to share with the world. This calling isn’t limited to churches, youth groups and mission trips. We can have an impact with anyone, anywhere. People, all people, are in our lives for a reason, and we are called to live, discuss and shine the gospel of Jesus Christ (Matthew 5:14-16), even to those who don't seem like the "type."
Are there people in my life I look at and treat differently based on looks or personality? Am I taking the first step toward others? Am I fulfilling my obligation to my friends, teammates, and to God?