“In everything do to others as you would have them do to you.”
– The Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12)
It’s known as The Gathering, an outdoor church service that takes place each Sunday in downtown Dallas serving the homeless who reside in and around that area of the city. It was the brainchild, or I should say inspiration, of my friend and officemate Jim Webb. Partnering with him in this endeavor is another close friend, Charlie Keen. Charlie serves as pastor of The Gathering. After having spent most of his adult life in parish ministry he thought he had deservedly retired. Not so. Instead he has been called back into service doing what may arguably be his finest work ever.
Charlie lives by The Golden Rule as closely as anyone I’ve ever known, treating others as he would want to be treated. He arrives each Sunday wearing a scruffy beard and black t-shirt with some clever slogan or scripture hand painted on the back and could easily be mistaken for one of his congregants. But everyone knows who he is, not by his appearance but because of his compassion. Charlie doesn’t just serve, Charlie befriends, he bonds with people. He sees himself no different than those to whom he ministers; only by God’s grace is he in a different circumstance.
“The Golden Rule is probably the most powerful human relations strategy in the history of the world,” according to Charles Manz in his book The Leadership Wisdom of Jesus. “Its practice can indeed produce valuable, golden results. The aim of treating people as we would like to be treated is to honor others as inherently valuable beings, as miraculous unique creations, no matter how seemingly imperfect and unworthy they are in their humanity.” That’s Charlie.
What Charlie does goes beyond Sunday. He tends to the needs of those he serves – with transportation, addiction recovery, and visiting the incarcerated to name a few. Charlie lives by The Golden Rule. As Manz says, it’s “the most powerful human relations strategy in the history of the world.” If that’s true, I wonder why we don’t all live by it more than we do.