As I go through a normal day (if there is such a thing for a pastor), I encounter a lot of people. Some I get to spend extended time with, some I greet in passing, and with some I share only a quick smile or glance. But, the more people I meet, the more I see three things that all people have in common.
Here are three things to remember about everyone you meet:
1.) We all have a story
Everyone has a compelling story that they are a part of. It begins with the fact that they are uniquely created in the image of God. There isn’t another one like them in the world. Without this particular person, the world wouldn’t be as interesting. While we may view ourselves, or others, as plain, ordinary, boring, or run-of-the-mill, the truth is that we all have a story to tell.
2.) We all have a purpose
Like with our story, we have all been created for a purpose. While many of us may have goals or desires that overlap (earth care, ending homelessness, etc….) none of us overlap entirely; that makes everyone’s purpose unique and beneficial. Without their God given passion, the Kingdom couldn’t come in its fullness. Everyone has a purpose.
3.) We all have a deep hurt or need that needs to be healed and redeemed by Jesus.
This one is perhaps the most foundational to understand. We all carry around some baggage, hurt, hangup, secret, scar, or self-depreciating worldview. For some, that has already been touched and healed by Jesus. Some need help in getting there, and some couldn’t even identify it because they are so wrapped up in it (like asking a fish about water); but the truth is, we all have something that keeps us hurting, longing, and fearful inside. We have all experienced some deep life-changing pain in life.
As a pastor, I’ve also learned four things that can help people: ask, listen, invite, be blessed.
1.) Ask them about their story.
It’s been said that everyones favorite subject is themselves. Most people are willing to talk and share if asked.
2.) Listen to them.
Seems common doesn’t it? But far too often we ask questions but then fail to listen. Instead, we formulate our response, think of the next question, or tune it out. The art of listening is critical to developing a relationship with others.
3.) Invite them in.
Invite them into your life that they might experience God’s transformations. Open and share what your hurts have been. Show them how Christ’s love, grace, and acceptance have transformed your life.
4.) Allow them to bless you.
Part of inviting others into our lives is allowing them to bless us as we share. They, as God-image bearers have the ability and capacity to bless, encourage, and shape us on our own journey. This two way relationship shows respect for them. We aren’t superiors, we are fellow travelers; we aren’t know-it-alls, we are sojourners with them. Allowing them to bless us gives them space to explore their own hurts and strengths and be a blessing to others.
What do you think? How have you shared your story with others? How have you been shaped and blessed by those whom you have invited into your own life?