imagesThis semester I have been writing about the character traits and skills of effective missional community leaders. I wrote about missional leaders being proactivehospitable, generous, and available. This week I will write about missional leaders being attentive.  I will reference a great passage in Luke 19.



1. Giving care or attention; watchful
2. Marked by or offering devoted and assiduous attention to the pleasure or comfort of others
3. Expressing affectionate interest through close observation and gallant gestures

Not Just “Passing Through”

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.

We read earlier in the book of Luke that Jesus was headed back toward Jerusalem where he would be betrayed.  On the way to Jerusalem Jesus “passed though” many other towns, but Jesus never just “passed through.” Instead, he was always looking for opportunities to meet the physical and spiritual needs of people around him.

This is the essence of being attentive.  All of life becomes purposeful. There is never a moment where we’re just “passing through.” We look for people with needs whether we’re at the grocery store, walking to class, at the gym, in a study group, at work, etc.  Being attentive means we’re always looking for people in need no matter where we are or where we’re going.

Looking Out for the Overlooked

A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way. When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

Zacchaeus was a “wee little man,” as the song goes. More than that, he was a tax-collector, a “sinner.” He was the kind of many that others gladly overlooked. He was not worthy of Jesus’s time, so most would think. In addition, he was  wealthy. So he did not have the physical needs that so many other people Jesus ministered to tended to have. Suffice it to say, for these reasons he was one to overlook and likely not one who “needed” Jesus.
Yet this was just the person Jesus spotted in the crowd. Even amidst the clamoring crowd, Jesus saw the needs of one man. When his mind was set on going to Jerusalem for his ultimate purpose for all people, he still saw the spiritual need of the one person in that single moment.

Seeking The Lost

This is what the Pharisees did not get about Jesus. People like Zacchaeus were who Jesus came for.  Another time when Jesus knew the Pharisees were mad at him for hanging our with “sinners,” he told them them a parable about a shepherd leaving his 99 sheep to go after the one sheep that was lost (Luke 15). He was trying to tell them this is what God is like. He pursues lost people.

Missional leaders do the same. We may be in a crowded dorm, a busy office, a packed commute, or on our way somewhere, yet we still make time to be attentive to the needs of others. We prayerfully survey the crowds looking for who may have needs that we can meet.  We seek out the one among the many.


JustinJustin Christopher is the National Campus Director for Campus Renewal Ministries and the author of Campus Renewal: A Practical Plan for Uniting Campus Ministries in Prayer and Mission. He facilitates CRM’s Partnering Campus Network and also gives leadership to the Campus House of Prayer and the missional community movement at the University of Texas.