We started off this week being reminded that God wants us to get along in the world surrounded by people we know, not labels and categories. The issue is not abortion as much as it is Alison. The issue is not homosexuality as much as it is Larry. And for the last two days, the issue has not been suicide, but Robin Williams.
So how appropriate it was that on our BlogTalkRadio show this week, our guest would be Marshall Snider of Bridgetown Inc., a relational ministry to people in downtown Portland, Oregon with the mission statement: Loving People because People Matter. Now that is one of the best mission statements I have heard. It’s a mission statement we should all adopt because it works anywhere. It doesn’t just work downtown, it works uptown, around town, any town.
People matter. One of the greatest things we can do in the world is let people know that. It’s simple enough.
How do you make people around you feel that they matter? We’d love to hear back from you some stories that will help us all do this better, but here are just a few things to get us started. They are all common sense things, but easily missed if we’re not consciously aware of them.
Notice people. This is probably the most obvious and the most overlooked. We all walk around, even in a crowd, surrounded by our own cocoons of isolation; and now, with cell phones, the shells have gotten even thicker. You have to break your own cocoon to notice someone else, and you’ll have to break theirs in some way if you want to get through.
Listen to people. Listening is probably the greatest art in making people feel that they matter. I can’t think of anyone who does not want to be heard. Listening is simply saying “What you have to say right now is important to me.” And remember – listening is active involvement and not just waiting to talk.
Get interested in the things that interest others. Sometime this happens naturally because we all have shared likes and dislikes, but sometimes it will take some effort on our part to do this when we don’t. Marti sometimes plays like she is interested in baseball only to give me the opportunity to talk about something that happened in today’s game. Last night was Women of Vision’s turn to treat the Isaiah House women without homes to an Angels game. Now that interests her. (So I get to talk about how they won, even if Marti doesn’t care!)
Stop listening to yourself! Do you talk to yourself? I do, especially when I’m alone. I love this because I always find someone intensely interested in the conversation. If you want to have a real conversation with someone else, however, you have to stop the conversations going on in your own head.
Bottom line, you just have to get out of yourself. I’ve found out that when I really do this and get interested in someone else, the conversation is much more intriguing than the one I would have had.
Why do we do all this? Because people matter. They matter big time to God — He died for them — and that ought to be enough to get us interested … big time.