My first thoughts turn to projects, funding, powerful oratory, passion, media attention and connections. But recent encounters with leaders in the anti-slavery realm, and with my own flesh, cause me to rethink my list and to recall a teaching I heard years ago by John Dawson of Youth With a Mission (YWAM.) To win spiritual battles, John said, we must fight in the opposite spirit.
Traffickers are selfish, willing to destroy the lives of others for their own personal gain. They are proud and demand respect. One trafficker recently arrested even had a throne and crown in his living room! They speak words that tear down, humiliate, terrify and paralyze. Their word is law, and their victims are mere commodities, whose thoughts, needs and opinions are not taken into consideration. Speaking loudly is more important than speaking lovingly. Words of gratitude are certainly not on their lips; the services rendered by their victims are taken as their due. And they are competitive, each building their own little kingdom and looking out for their own interests.
How can we, as activists in the movement to end modern day slavery, come at our work in the opposite spirit? We can :
- Extend grace to cover over each other’s shortcomings.
- Speak words, face to face and to others, that build up, not tear down.
- Listen and show genuine respect for the opinions of others, whether we agree or not.
- Have the humility to consider that we might have something to learn from someone else.
- Recognize that just because someone does things differently than we do does not mean they are wrong.
- Yearn for God’s standards, and not set up our own measuring stick by which everyone else falls short.
- Express gratitude for those who do us a service.
- Want the best for each other, and show it in words and actions.
- Think the best of others, and show it in words and actions.
- Live for the Audience of One, wanting His approval and freedom for the people He loves and created, more than we want to build our organizations; eagerly work to support each other in every way we can, and genuinely rejoice in each other’s victories.
Our enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy. May we give lavishly, bring life through our words and deeds and build each other up.