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I believe we are all gifted, in one way or another. Our gifts are intended

to be a blessing to others and to bless us. There have been occasions

when I have witnessed people using their gifts and it has almost taken

my breath away, whether they were a Premier League footballer, an

award-winning musician, or an actor on a West End stage. These

people, at the peak of their profession, seem to be able to do the

impossible and they make it look easy!

Impressive though these people undoubtedly are, the most impressive are

those who use their gifts selflessly, people who are driven by a deep sense

of compassion. They do not necessarily receive a high salary or public

acclaim. Much of their best work goes unseen. Their reward comes simply

from knowing that they have helped someone and in doing so have used

their time well. These are the people that do take my breath away.

Witnessing the work of nurses and care staff, looking after the sick and

elderly, has left me humbled. Watching a volunteer in a homeless hostel

give their full attention to a guest, who is past the state of even caring for

themselves, has been inspiring. And no less wonderful, the primary school

teaching assistant assigned a pupil with ADHD, who tests their patience to

the limit, and yet they start each day offering a clean slate, a new start,

endless hope, and forgiveness.

Gregory Boyle describes these compassionate people in his book ‘Tattoos

on the Heart’. He claims they have Christ-like qualities because they ‘chose

a oneness in kinship and a willingness to live in other’s hearts. Jesus was

not a man for others. He was a man with others...Jesus didn’t seek the

rights of lepers. He touched the leper even before he got round to curing

him. He didn’t champion the cause of the outcast. He was the outcast…The

strategy of Jesus is not centered in taking the right stand on issues, but

rather standing in the right place – with the outcast and those relegated to

the margins.’*

I have had the privilege of meeting people who possess some of this Christlike

compassion. They absolutely take my breath away. Perhaps it’s time I

stopped dreaming of becoming a professional footballer. I think there might

be a better way to try and use my gifts!


*Gregory BOYLE, Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion. New

York: Free Press, 2011. ISBN 978-1-4391-5315-4 page 72