Justin Hiebert

Catalyzing Change

Commitment to the small things

Posted on 20 Aug 2013 in Christianity, Discipleship, Leadership, Ministry, missional theology | 1 comment

At the UPS Store we have a homeless guy that frequently comes into our store to bring us stuff. For whatever reason, he has chosen us as a regular stop in his day and most times he brings us packing material or extra cardboard that he finds while searching in dumpsters for food. Anything that he thinks our store could use, from old banding material to only partially used paper, he brings in to us. I don’t get a chance to have conversations with him much, but he seems like a great guy.

And I’ll never forget a few months ago, one of the (at the time) new employees did something remarkable.

When he came into the store, she greeted him with a smile and said, “Hi Bill!”

He instantly stopped in his tracks and stumbled out, “You….you….you remember my name?”

Her response was amazing. “Of course I do! Glad to see you today. Thanks for bringing stuff in.”

He smiled, no, he beamed with pride. Someone actually took the time to remember his name.

She treated him like a human.

I’m guessing by his response that it doesn’t happen all that often. He’s ‘the homeless guy’ or ‘that weird guy that always wears sweaters, even in summer’, very rarely is he Bill, a loved and beloved human worth remembering. Something has happened to him in his life, he’s somehow become (at least in popular perception), less human. And even worse, he’s come to believe it.

That’s why her response gave him such life and joy. She treated him as human, something he hadn’t experienced in years.


Our church does a regular Wednesday night outreach into the community. We intentionally try to plan not only a quick, easy, and nutritious meal, but family games that can span generations. We do it with the intent of meeting three needs in our community that we think are most critical: food (we live in an economically poor area of Denver), community (people are often lonely and isolated), and evangelism (sharing Jesus’ hope and peace matters).

One guy that comes regularly is Shawn (or is it Sean? One can never be sure….)

And let’s be honest about Shawn: he doesn’t look the nicest, smell the greatest, or have the most welcoming personality.

But he’s made in the image of God and therefore worthy of love, affection, and feeling human.

He won’t make the greatest church member. He won’t give lots of money or help raise funds for poor starving children in Africa.

But he’s made in the image of God and therefore worthy of love, affection, and feeling human.

He’s not a naturally gifted leader or beaming with charismatic personality that draws others to him (and ultimately Jesus).

English: A homeless man in Paris Français : Un...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But he’s made in the image of God and therefore worthy of love, affection, and feeling human.


I’m notoriously bad at names. I’ve spent a year in a previous church and still had to address people as, “Hey you.” It’s hard for me.

But along the way, I’ve committed to getting better, because the more people like Shawn and Bill that I meet, the more I see the importance of doing even the littlest of things right. The small things, like remember names, help people feel valued, respected, worthy, loved, and human. It shows that they matter. It shows that others care. It provides them with the decency and respect that’s deserved for anyone created in the image of God.

And as I look at the American church landscape, I want to see a greater commitment from people wanting to do the small things right. We get caught up in the mystique of having great programs, or awesome worship times, or rockstar preachers, or bestselling organizations, or billion dollar budgets. But in a world that can feel so in-human to begin with, this only makes the problem worse.

Only when the church commits to doing the small things right can we truly begin to offer others hope. Only when we treat everyone like people created in the image of God can we begin to show them their true worth in all things. Only then can we show them that they matter, not only to us, but to God.


What do you think? How did this challenge or affirm you? What would you like to do differently? Please enter the discussion below.


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Justin Hiebert

Leadership Catalyst - Entrepreneur - Coach at JSHiebert Leadership Coaching
I am a Business and Life Coach in both non-profit and for profit settings. I coach leaders, executives, and pastors in areas of vision, clarity, and values. In relationship coaching I focus on healthy and sustainable relationships, and in leadership development roles I catalyze change for individuals and groups to thrive. I also consult churches and organizations on how to train new leaders and create a healthy culture. In addition to that, I am an Anabaptist pastor in the Denver metro area. I specialize on topics that include: missional theology, discipleship, culture and the church in today’s society. I am married to my wonderful wife Elise and we have three kids. I grew up and now work in the United States Mennonite Brethren Church (USMB) and love the people and history of the Mennonite Brethren faith. I am a graduate of Tabor College with a dual degree in Youth Ministry and Christian Leadership, a graduate of Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary with a Masters of Divinity, and a Doctoral Student and Bethel Seminary. I also teach college classes in areas of Bible, Communication, and Business.

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  • Elise Hiebert

    First of all, that guy at your store seems super sweet! Second, I do struggle very hard with knowing how to approach these dear people that have are having hard times, particularly if they are inebriated…all the time. I suppose I will want to be able to look Jesus in the face and say, “I treated them like I would my brother or sister.” Some questions I’m left to wrestle with: Am I excited to see them? They have gifts too, how do we encourage them? And most importantly, do we share the good news of Jesus when the opportunity is presented?

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