89 fishermanThis is a tough topic for me. In the last two posts, I’ve given examples of how not to have “I and Thou” encounters.

See, all my life I’d been training myself to put tasks above people.

As an extrovert, I’ve enjoyed being with people far more than being alone. For most of my adult life, I’ve used the people I’m with to get things done. Reduced them to a “means to an end.”

That’s produced two experiences in those I’m with. Practical help and committed encouragement to achieve what we want to accomplish and an uneasy awkwardness when we’ve just been together.

89 radio djI befriended Sam, a successful and hilarious radio personality, hoping to introduce him to Christ. Soon, his very difficult marriage became the focus of our conversations. I slid into the role of “marriage advisor”. We spent hundreds of hours together over many months … Sam began to change, Suzi responded, their marriage improved.

When it did, I was at a loss.

We had nothing to talk about.

So uncomfortable were our interactions—as I strained to find something to help him with—that Sam lost interested in getting together. A year later he and Suzi separated. Then divorced.89 church

Tim and I planted a church together. Then we launched a business.

I loved it!

Tim became one of my best friends. We were together all the time, working on the church of the business. Both were new, exciting adventures with regular progress and limitless possibilities.

Then, one day Tim told me he was quitting the business. When he did, he gave me one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received: honest feedback.89 Tim

What Tim said almost 25 years ago I’ll never forget:

“Kirk, when I’m with you, I feel more like a project than a person.”

I didn’t understand what he meant. So, I hired a counselor and asked her. Years of very helpful therapy, intensive work in a character-development ministry, reflecting on Buber, and being supported by a wife and friends have brought transformation in my way of being with people.

And…there’s more coming.

 

 

 

 

Coaching Distinctions #89.docx

KRK 5/11/2014