Work With People? You Must Do This One Thing

I have the pleasure of working with people on a day-to-day basis. I’ve done so for most of my working life in a variety of settings.

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Most of that time I’ve tried to move people forward, helping them with their problems and encouraged them to embrace a fuller life. But so often it feels like it’s hard work, which I suppose it is. But I really wondered if I was making it harder than it should be.

In ministry especially, it always felt like people were projects, like I had to get them over some artificially created line. Looking back, I feel a bit embarrassed that this was my attitude and approach.

When I look around me however, I’ve realised that many of my peers who are in the people helping industry operate the same way. People seemed to have problems that needed fixing, which meant I would come along and act as the professional or the expert. Oh, it horrifies me to even write like that, but that’s how I approached much of my work.

Until recently.

I was listening to a new podcast that I was put on to by a friend. The Wake Up Project is a series of interviews with well-known Aussies, and they’ve been focusing on Men in their most recent series.

Their latest episode interviewed Graham Long. Graham is the Pastor of Wayside Chapel in Sydney which has an amazing ministry. He said lots of things that were incredible, but one quote stood out above all others:

“People are not a problem to fix, but a story to meet.”

On the face of it, we’d all agree that it’s true. But in practice, many don’t do it. Me included.

When I meet people, I want to listen to their story, not fix whatever problem they may be going through.

And from experience, when you offer a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on, people quickly realise they aren’t in the company of an expert, but a friend who treats them as family.

It’s the new standard for me. This is the goal to help me be the best people helping person I can be. People are hard to fix, but they’re easy to love.

One requires a degree, the other your time. Choose the gift of time over all others.

It’ll be worth it.

Making a Difference

Sometimes the corporate, nine to five lifestyle can make you feel like just another cog in the wheel. It’s easy to think that all we do is make someone else richer, whilst we miss out on family time, commute the long drive to work and enjoy a few weeks holiday a year as a reward.

But it doesn’t have to feel like that.

Everything that you and I do matters, to at least one other person. Whether your job is well-known and well paid, or underrated and never noticed, what you do makes a difference.

William James, philosopher and psychologist noted:

Act as if what you do makes difference. It does.

When we act like what we do makes a difference in people’s lives we begin to find purpose and meaning beyond simply showing up.

Because what we all do matters and it does make a difference. If you don’t think it does, step back and see the truth through the trees.

Even then, if you can’t make sense of it, maybe a change is on the cards.

When You Become a Parent

Strange emotions begin to emerge.

But the weirdest thing that happens is you begin to struggle with all the things you previously thought you’d overcome. All the foibles and struggles and problems of your early adult years that you’ve worked hard to overcome, seem to come back in one foul swoop.

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Somehow your kids are a mirror to your inner world, held before you in a way that welcomes back all the problems of years gone by.

However, receiving the insight your kids offer you about yourself is a gift to behold. With them being in your life, you’re able to really move forward and sort out the things that are holding you back, not simply rearrange the mental and emotional furniture giving you the illusion you’ve really overcome.

Mostly though, we’ve just swept our problems under the carpet. That is untill our kids come along and reveal to us all the ways we still continue to struggle.

God bless them.

It’s Tiring

I wonder if the disciples ever just closed up shop and walked away? Like everything they were fighting for just got to hard and they got tired fighting.

That’s what I feel like doing.

I hear and see the debates about gay marriage and it’s just tiring. It’s tiring to keep up, it’s tiring to speak up. I waver between “shit what does this mean for us” and “God is in control”.

If anything, I’m understanding the need for Christ to come and penetrate the earth with his peace in ways that are beyond our comprehension and ability to orchestrate.

But I also rest in the knowledge that one day this entire earth will pass away. Every rule we have and every man-made law we need to follow will be torn down and the freedom that reigns in the person of Christ will be eternal.

Even now, I feel glimpses of eternity and sense the pains of the earth.

‘Maranatha’ seems to be the only appropriate response in such a time as this….

Being Silent May be Your Best Response

It’s in your face. 

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Rainbow colored icons are taking up your news feed. It’s everywhere, and there’s no escaping the truth a cultural shift is taking place. But getting all riled up on social media ain’t gonna help. 

They expect you to be fired up. They expect you to disagree. They expect you to take the bait. They expect you to throw out a bible verse. 

It’s all pretty run of the mill to be honest.

Maybe the best thing God’s people can do is just remain silent.

Resist the urge to fight back. Resist the desire to get angry. Resist the need to be right.

Why? Because its bloody hard to love those in a Facebook conversation. From what I’ve seen, it makes everything WORSE! I’ve not yet come across a single civil conversation on the topic in an online context.

Not only that, but the message of unrelenting love toward your enemies cannot exist where it is not being given. And it can’t be given if you have a long list of enemies not even willing to interact with you. And that list takes shape through your Facebook conversations.

By all means disagree, sign a petition and share your stance with people. But do it offline where a real, face to face conversation can occur in the context of mutual understanding and without trying to prove the other wrong or get the other person to adopt your position.

Turn the other cheek, love others and in their moment of need give mountains of grace and forgiveness.

It’s the way of Christ. It’s the way of us.

Be better.