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by Lynn Anderson
Carolyn and I sat aboard an aircraft in Victoria, British Columbia, ready for departure. From our little oval window, we spotted several luggage wagons parked on the tarmac all piled high with magazines. Then we noticed that every one of those hundreds of magazines bore the same name: People Magazine. All over America, millions of people would soon slap down three dollars a throw just to read about the goings on of other human beings! Amazing, considering that most of us get our fill of people every day.
It set us to thinking: The only real difference between People Magazine and most other magazines sold today is the name! Most magazines are about people. Life Magazine is about people; Sports illustrated is about people; Time, Newsweek, Popular Mechanics, even The Wall Street Journal are about people.
This shouts something about human nature. We people are enormously fascinated with each other. The radio plays songs that are primarily about people; TV is mostly pictures of people. At the movies, we pay good money to sit in the dark and watch two-dimensional pictures of imaginary people. We read novels to get inside the psyches of people. Sometimes, for recreation, we go to the mall to people watch. Even daily conversation is mostly about people. We are driven by our passion for people. In fact, our fascination with people is one of the ways in which we are like God.
Since we people are so intrinsically interested in people, when we focus instead on things, ideas, tasks, status, or institutions, we do serious damage to the central matrix of our humanity not to mention the damage we do to people around us. A coworker drove this home to me in a very personal way a few years back.
This coworker had been in our office only a few weeks, but something wasnt working right. So I sat down to chat with her a minute, hoping to help her work through her problem. Something seems to be bothering you. Can I help?
I wasnt quite prepared for what I heard next.
I was stunned. Me? Unapproachable? Insensitive? Surely not me! I tried to deny her accusations, rationalize them, and blame everybody else. But...really, she was dead right. There was nothing to do but to face my insensitivity, own it, and apologize to her and one by one to the whole staff. And then I began the task of getting back on track.
Yet how had this happened?
Didnt I have a reputation for being warm, approachable, and people-oriented?
Hadnt I built a long and visible track record of good relationships?
But this painful moment of truth forced me to look honestly at the past many months. Everything was a blur. My pocket calendar was as cluttered as a city dump. Far too many speaking engagements. Way too much travel. Two new books. A new church. Helping launch a new journal. Teaching a graduate course. And page after page of appointments moved or canceled. The pace had gradually accelerated, reaching an all-time high over the last few weeks as I was fighting the contract deadline, ironically, on the book, The Jesus Touch: Learning the Art of Relationship from the Master! And as my internal engines exceeded the redline, I had become less and less available, more and more self-absorbed.
I am a people person, but I had allowed myself to become task-driven. For months I had not only been neglecting people, but Id been leaving hurt and disillusioned bodies in my wake, jeopardizing the very things I really believe are most important. Because my life was not people-sensitive, it was drifting toward disaster.
Gods number-one priority is people. To do his main thing, God became a people and moved to live among people. Jesus, who became God in a body, was out there on the people turf. For Jesus, people are job one. For authentic followers of Jesus, people become top priority as well.
The Bible says that when Jesus owns us and fills us, we see people in a whole new way. For Christs love compels us and thus we should no longer live for [ourselves], but for him.... So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. We have a new view of people because if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:14-17) The old view of people is gone! The new view of people has come. And since we are Christs ambassadors, God is making his appeal through us. (2 Corinthians 5:20)
So God, who is in the people business, has also called us to people-centered living. The most godlike thing we can do is to treat people like Jesus did.
For thought and discussion:
Would others characterize you as warm and approachable or plastic and task driven?
What behaviors would that decision be built upon?
Does this evaluation reflect your values and how you would like to be perceived?
How do you feel about the statement that Gods number one priority is people?
What does John 3:16-17 have to say about this evaluation?
If God wants us to be in the people business and treat those around us as Jesus treated people, then what is one specific change you are going to work on this week?
Author: Lynn Anderson
Publication Date: May 3, 2002
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