At Tearfund, we think carefully about the work we do and the way that we do it. In addition to our Quality Standards and commitments to various internationally recognised operating codes, we also take time to think about what it means to be a Christian organisation in this field.

What does this look like? Recently, to help us think about our identity as a Christian organisation, we have been working on a project called ‘Thinking about Jesus’. We asked ourselves what it might mean to ‘live like Jesus’ – to follow in his footsteps, taking his example as our model.

We know that our organisation was set up to respond to global poverty, and that we are called and gifted to be able to do this. But we wanted to think about what it might mean to live like Jesus as we do this work. We spent time talking about what we thought Jesus’ most important characteristics and practices were, drawing these out from the stories of the gospels.

During our conversations we focused on the importance of relationships for Jesus. We looked at his relationship with God his Father and with those around him. He was willing to build relationships with the most unlikely people – those living on the margins of his own society.

We talked about the way that he met people’s needs in a huge variety of ways. We also noticed that all of these interactions showed his love and compassion, and his ability to meet people wherever they were. He welcomed them as people created in the image of God and loved by him.

Even Jesus, who was God, made sure that he spent time in prayer. We reflected on the way that this helped him to root his identity and mission in God. Prayer helped him to know what he was called to do and to be ready for what it demanded of him. It strengthened his willingness to give up the things that might have stopped him doing what God had sent him to do.

We started to think about what Jesus’ example meant for us at Tearfund. We talked about the importance of relationships as we work with people living in poverty. This involves welcoming and working with those whom the world might isolate or think of as unworthy. And this welcome is a way of showing people the love of God.

We also reflected on the importance of allowing ourselves and our work to be shaped and guided by God. This happens as we spend time praying, worshipping and reflecting on scripture. It is in this relationship that we come to understand who we are and what we are called to do. This is where we learn what our gifts and talents are for. We are then set free to use them to participate in God’s mission to redeem, transform and restore the world.

Thinking about Jesus has challenged us to live in a way that is fundamentally shaped by our relationship with God. At Tearfund we are continuing to think about what this means for our work in relief and development. We are asking how we can encourage our staff and partners to become more like Christ, empowered to show his love and compassion. We want to support them to use the gifts God has given them in the work that they do.

How might thinking about Jesus challenge you? What might it mean for you to live like Jesus?

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Hannah Swithinbank
Hannah Swithinbank is Tearfund’s Theology & Network Engagement Manager.