Thursday, February 16, 2012

Are You a People Person?

Relationships are difficult.
This probably didn't need to be said, but I'll say it anyway. Each of us could, no doubt, share horror stories of relationships gone wrong. If we could somehow see the emotional scars of the people just in this room we would be shocked. I did a google search on the subject of “relationship horror stories” and found, believe it or not, 23,400,000 responses. Wow! That’s a big number. It’s no wonder that a lot of people have just sworn off relationships all together – but that’s not realistic either, is it?

We’re not meant to be alone. Whether it’s family or friends we need community to help us to reach our potential. So why are relationships so hard? Relationships are hard partly because we’re all people, and, as I've heard my mother-in-law say many times: "people are crazier than anybody."
Rick Warren came up with a list of different types of difficult people. See if you are related to any of these:

THE SHERMAN TANK - will run over you if you let him.
THE MEGAPHONE - will talk your ear off.
THE BUBBLE BUSTER - deflates everyone's enthusiasm.
THE VOLCANO - has a temper like Mt. St. Helens.
THE CRY BABY - is a chronic complainer.
THE NITPICKER - is the unpleasable perfectionist.
THE SPACE CADET - is on a completely different wavelength.

Each of us has our own story, and each of them is fascinating in their own right. The joys and sorrows, good
experiences and bad, disasters and highlights, lessons learned and mistakes repeated all go together to make
us what we are. Remember that each of us is deeply flawed, yet loved by God. So, we’re all in the same
boat. Everywhere we look there are imperfect people doing imperfect things –except us of course. What
does Jesus say “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up
the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 7:12

What does this look like? Let’s look at 5 ways that you want others to treat you.
  • You want others to encourage you.
Everyone likes to be encouraged. Life can be difficult; it's a lot easier when you have someone in your corner. I haven't met anyone yet who doesn't want to be encouraged. Here are a few of the many "one anothers" of the New Testament. “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

"See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called 'Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” – Hebrews 3:12-13

“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day
approaching.” – Hebrews 10:24-25
  • You want others to appreciate you.
Over and over again in the New Testament were faced with the command to love one another. This goes along with appreciation. Each of us brings something to the table. We’re all different for a reason. I actually think that some people are different partly to help the rest of us mature. : )

“Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” – Romans 12:10

G.B. Stern said that “Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone.” Who is there in your life that you appreciate who may not know it or who may need to hear it? There's no point in waiting until they die. They won't be able to hear what you have to say then, so say it now.
  • You want others to forgive you.
“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:32

There is a power that is released when we forgive. It is a power that enables us to grow, but also frees up the recipient to move on. Offenses chain us to an event that occurred at a specific place in time, but forgiveness enables us to move confidently into the future. In church, forgiveness is at the core of any progress we make, because we are a family of the forgiven – all of us sinners saved by grace. So Jesus taught us to pray “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

Forgiveness opens the prison door and we are surprised to find that the prisoner we've freed is ourself.
  • You want others to listen to you.
Everyone wants to be heard, because everyone has something to say. The Bible tells us clearly that each and every one of us is valuable. This is a part of loving each other – learning how to listen.

You can’t love deeply from a distance. It's important to have a circle of friends on whom we can depend. We need others in our lives who know and understand our story. We need people who we can turn to, and who we can help, when life gets difficult. This is part of the purpose of church. We can bear one another’s burdens. “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”Galatians 6:2

One thing that I’ve learned over the years is that everyone has a story, and if we listen, we can learn from it.
  • You want others to understand you.
One of the keys of communication that is taught in pre-marriage counselling is to seek first to understand; then to be understood. You see, we tend so often to judge people by their behaviours but we judge ourselves by our intentions. Why do people do what they do? Why are people so insecure? What are the events in the past that have led them to this place in their lives?

When I can begin to understand those things I gain a perspective on people that helps me to be more compassionate and caring. It’s not that they are excuses, but rather they are reasons that help me to understand.

We’re talking about community here. We’re talking about building healthy relationships. Those don’t just happen. In fact, in today’s world I would say that they are exceedingly rare. We live in a world of dysfunction, the age of “I” and “me.” But here’s what I know about people:

Everybody wants to be somebody.
Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.
Everybody needs somebody.
Everybody’s afraid of being hurt.
People aren’t the enemy.

The bottom line is that we need to take great care when we’re dealing with people – they’re complicated beings. Here are some deep thoughts to end on by C.S. Lewis' book The Weight of Glory:
"It is a serious thing, to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no 'ordinary' people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations -- these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit -- immortal horrors or everlasting splendours..."

Go be nice to someone.

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"Take Out the Trash" - The Principle of Transformation
The Power of the Mind
Developing Great Habits
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