Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Are you like me?

Future Pastor, the more you understand the basic needs people have, the more patient you will be when they behave out of sorts. Remember that folks aren’t so much stupid as they are short sighted. Since every behavior has a goal attached to it, it would do you well to know what that goal might be.

Consider this: I think we all have two basic questions needing answers as we enter into any kind of community. We want to know if this group is made up of people who are LIKE me and secondly, we want to know if they are FOR me.

If you are inviting people into community, into sharing life more closely, new people want to know if they have anything in common with the others they are meeting. It shouldn’t take long in basic conversation to find whether or not you have something to talk about. You know how painful it is when two or more people have nothing to say to each other.

So why does someone like that stick around? Why does the weirdo keep coming back to hang out with you and your people? It might be due to the second question. If could be that he senses that you are for him.

It’s not enough to have something in common with others, which makes relationships much easier to enjoy and maintain. No, you and I need to feel that others have our back, and that regardless of what happens, these friends won’t leave us when the going gets tough.

I find this thought in the Genesis story of Adam’s life before Eve. The account says that he was created after the animals, and was given the task of giving names to every creature that he sees. This is pure speculation, but where my mind goes in reading this is to wonder what Adam must have thought after assigning a label to the 9000th beast. I put in his head, “There is no creature here that is LIKE me. Lion, tiger, and giraffe aren’t like me. Neither is the elephant or the parrot. This monkey, kinda maybe, but nothing here like me.”

As the story goes, along comes Eve. After his experience with the all other species, if I were Adam, I’d be thinking, “Finally, here is one LIKE me! Here is one in which I am in common. This is one who walks like I do, talks like I do...”

And soon later, the pair not only find that they have that mutual connection, but they have the opportunity for be FOR one another A partner and mate with which each can be naked and not ashamed.

I believe herein lies the answer to enduring community. We are all on a search for people who will stand with us and not leave us, who will support, encourage and always be there for us. Having something in common is secondary to knowing that we have a place and that we belong.

Future Pastor, people are looking to you, asking of the Church of the Future, “Is there anyone here LIKE me?” and more importantly, “Is anyone here FOR me?”

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