As I travel, I see people who struggle with their luggage, finding the departure gate, language challenges, etc. And I know I could be helpful on lots of this stuff, usually. However, I’m learning from various experiences that often being helpful in human interactions, is defined better by the recipient rather than person giving the help. I say this because there have been many occasions where I stepped in to help, without asking the person if they wanted my assistance. In no uncertain terms, I’ve gotten the proverbial hand slap for not asking first.
So when we want to help someone, instead of jumping in without asking, we would be wise to do these two things first:
Ask the person if they would like help
Ask how they would like help
This kind of communication is useful not only with strangers but also with co-workers, family members, friends, acquaintances, etc 🙂
Just a little practical wisdom from the road that we can all use for improving our communication 🙂
I’m really good at impulsive & sometimes that isn’t always a prudent thing. So learning to be intentional is very helpful. It seems to me that Moses was impulsive when he killed the Egyptian slave master, but he learned to be intentional. I say this because of his dialogue with God at the burning bush.
The upside of being impulsive is that we can be willing to take risks. The upside of being intentional is evaluating the risks & using wisdom to navigate the possible hotspots. I think the best way to be intentional is to walk with the Holy Spirit rather than letting our flesh make dumb decisions for us 🙂
Yesterday, I read a thought-provoking story that I think you’ll also find to be at least curious. I read about this wealthy businessman who was really into Jesus, having been heavily influenced in very transforming ways by a pastor whom he greatly admired. This particular pastor only briefly passed through the businessman’s life, but his impact was revolutionary. Subsequently, this businessman began to treat his employees with more grace and generosity. But here was the rub, one of his employees severely ripped him off and then went missing. After several months, the wealthy man received an email from the distant pastor that he’d accidently bumped into the rogue employee and the thief had repented and decided to give his life over to Jesus’ leadership. The pastor was sending the thief back to the businessman! In the email, the pastor put the squeeze on the businessman, requesting him to do two things: forgive the thief & then let him go back to the pastor to help in his pastoring work. Clearly, the businessman was in a quandary. Justice said that the thief should pay for his crime, but grace said that the businessman should forgive his fellow brother in Christ.
When I read this story, there was a totally riveting sentence that keeps echoing in my thoughts. In the email, the pastor told the businessman that the former employee was useless as an employee, but now he was altogether useful as a fellow member in Jesus’ family: useless as an employee, but useful as a brother. Seems to me that we often determine the value of a person on their function rather than their relationship with Jesus.
This story is my paraphrase of the story of Philemon in the Bible – a super short epistle from Paul to Philemon, the businessman. Philemon had a slave, Onesimus, who stole from him and ran away, only to bump into Paul, who helped Onesimus become a follower of Jesus. Upon returning Onesimus to his former owner, Philemon, Paul placed the supreme value on Onesimus being a fellow brother in Christ & made his position as a slave a virtual disposable value.
As a follower of Jesus, we need to be better at loving people than using people 🙂
During Christmas, it seems like we are frequently aware of the whole gift thing & sometimes that can be kind of tricky. Here are some ideas for gifts that could be really useful:
encouragement: Christmas is a great time to put into words (even on a card) how important someone is to you, to let someone know how wonderful they are or what you admire / respect about them
hugs: some people really appreciate a genuine hug during Christmas without getting sketchy 🙂
time: I took one of my kids skiing yesterday & we totally enjoyed lots of time together, without phones, email, FB, etc – just being together
extra effort: doing something nice for someone (bring them a cup of coffee, offer to clean their garage, run errands, etc) can be super meaningful – even creating coupons for work can be a nice gift
gift: gifts don’t have to be expensive to be meaningful
The ideas listed above are from Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages book – a super helpful way to express love in ways that are meaningful to the person receiving the gift & not just the person giving the gift 🙂
Christmas brings out the best & the worst in us. We tend to be more generous & compassionate but at the same time more impatient and cranky. Christmas motivates us to see the needs of people around us, like Saving Moses, but because of the increased pressure & work that can come with this season, we can also be more self-centered and less flexible. In the next few weeks, I’m planning to do some really practical & honest blogs about dealing with Christmas. Below are a few ideas about handling cranky people in the Christmas season:
remember that Christmas isn’t an easy season for many people to navigate (deaths in family, difficult memories, loneliness, financial pressures, etc)
if someone is cranky, don’t let their behavior & attitude infect your words or attitude
plan ahead to be extra patient, gracious & kind (pre-planning our attitudes is a great tool to have available when the need arises)
gain satisfaction from being generous & kind, not from the person’s reaction (internal versus external fulfillment)
I find myself in some interesting positions from time to time in various relationships. Sometimes I can get frustrated & exasperated with different people because of some struggles with communication – and communication can be a really tricky topic. I have no doubt as well that I can also be frustrating & exasperating to people is well.
With that all being said, lets be mindful to go the extra mile in our relationships with patience, forgiveness, grace, gentleness & tender words & actions. I say this because I regularly find myself as the recipient of Gods abundant grace, gentleness & forgiveness – the extra mile 🙂