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.
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.
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.