Then I heard someone share about how selfish most of us are in relationships. We're more concerned about how we feel when we meet someone than we are about remembering their names. And then we want to make sure they know how important we are so then we spend most of our time talking about ourselves.
I decided I wanted to be different. I know I can still be selfish at times and I'm not an extrovert, but I've made a conscious effort to try to get to know the people around me. It's changed me. I've learned things I never would have known. I've also learned I've pre-judged in situations when I shouldn't have...after learning about someone's past. I've decided to make a list to help you get started:
- Interview your parents and grandparents. Ask them about their childhood, how they met their spouse. Find out what it was like for them in school, what sports they played. Ask what they aspired to be. Did they do that...or end up doing something completely different? What was it like raising babies in their generation? Did they serve in the military? What was that like? How did they come to know Jesus?
- Interview military veterans. If they're willing, ask them what it was like serving in the military. Did they face conflict or near-death? What were their feelings? What countries were they in? What was that like? Do they stay in contact with military buddies?
- Ask church leaders what it's been like to lead in their churches. What has been their greatest accomplishment? Their greatest heartache? What is their greatest longing for the Church? How do they build the next generation of leaders?
- Ask missionaries about serving on the mission field. What was the hardest thing they faced? What do they miss about their second country? What foods did they eat? How did they build friendships there? Would they do it again?
- Ask coaches to share their coaching philosophy. How do you build young men/women? What is their dream? How does coaching relate to life?
- Ask new friends how they met their spouse. Where were they married? Did they grow up in a large city or a small town? Where did they go to high school? College? What are their dreams?
- Ask a business person how they became successful. Where did they go to school? What did they study? What is their passion?
- Ask a successful mom how she has such well-behaved children. What is her parenting philosophy? What does she do to show her children love? What does she do for family time? What does she feed her family?
- Ask a farmer what crops they grow. What new methods of farming do they use? Do they still use any old methods that work? What changes have they seen in their lifetime?
- Ask a younger person what they're studying. What do they hope to do with their lives? What do they like about their church? Do they have special family relationships? Who do they admire?
There are so many valuable things we can learn about others. I promise it will give you a new way to look at that person. Sometimes we think we need to know all about farming to relate to a farmer. That's not true! We just need to be a willing, attentive listener. I've found that when you begin asking questions, people are eager to share their stories---they may have never been asked! I know some veterans who have loved sharing their stories with me. And what a treasure to know their experiences!! We're losing some great generations who hold valuable information we need to know. And as we ask older or younger people to share their stories and their hearts, it will give us insight into a whole generation and may close some generation gaps which exist. We need one another. And we need to learn to love and appreciate others, their experiences, the truth they hold, and their stories. Do you really know the people around you??