Last time I raised the question: “What are people to you?”  We’re talking about the meanings we give to ourselves, to the experiences in our lives, and to others.  So, please stop and consider: what meaning have you attached to people?

I don’t mean your ex, or your mother-in-law, or your favorite Olympic athlete.

I mean human beings. The whole bunch of us.

Christianity, I suggest, invites the following:

  • People are an opportunity to bring glory to God.
  • People are openings for intimacy.
  • People are possibilities for experiencing and expanding the Kingdom of God.

What would be created in your relationships, if you chose one of these meanings for the people God puts in your path… co-workers, neighbors, the clerk at the DMV?

What if your congregation embraced these meanings for those in your community who are not members of any church?

If our meaning shifts, what other shifts automatically follow?

Try it and see.

For this next week, try one of these meanings on—like you would a sweater.  Just put it on, every day, for a week… and see what happens.

Live in it as if it’s true.

As if people are an opportunity for you to bring glory to God.  Then, do what comes naturally when “an opportunity to bring glory to God” calls you up, or asks for directions, or slinks into work hung over.

Live for one week as if people are an opening for intimacy.

Just do what comes naturally when “an opening for intimacy” comes home late for dinner, forgets her textbook at school, or asks to borrow your golf clubs.

It’s surprising.  Once your meaning shifts, a whole lot of other shifts happen all by themselves.

Emotionally, you’ll be different.  Instead of frustration you may feel intrigued. Rather than disdain or judgment, anger or indifference, you might experience mercy or kindness, curiosity or compassion.

Since you’ll be feeling differently, your behavior will shift, as well.  Not like gritting your teeth and tolerating someone you can’t stand.  When the meaning shifts, and your emotions change, you actually behave differently, pretty automatically.

Here’s an example: A relative and I’d had an icy relationship for the several years after I became a fire-breathing Christian.  Convicted by God, I began to see how oppositional my stance was.

It broke me.

Repenting, I chose to embrace him as a gift, rather than a threat. Love and kindness replaced fear and judgment. Automatically, I started to see the virtue in him and, just as automatically, I began to affirm it.

The “ice” began to melt almost immediately … and … twenty years later, he gave his heart to Christ.

Coaching Distinctions #24