Having been challenged helpfully recently about being too private and not sharing enough about myself, I have been led to ponder upon the whole issue of social interaction. This also bears upon how we interact with people from a pastoral point of view; there are lots of cross-overs.
- We must consider everyone to be more important than ourselves. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves (Phil. 1:3) is what Paul says to the Philippians. We must view all our interaction with others in this light. You are more important than me should always be our mantra.
- Listening to the other person is such an important thing. Take a look at Luke 24 and see the Lord listening to the two on the road to Emmaus. I have written about that here.
- Asking Questions. Good listening also involves asking good questions. In all this we showing that we are interested in the other person.
- We need to share with each other. Just seeking information from the other person can be seen as manipulative even prying. A readiness to share gives an indication of me trusting, even honouring, the other person. You are doing this because you are committing certain information to them for their stewardship. This can, also, lead to the other person being willing to open up to us.
- In order for others to care we need to share. In Gal. 6:2 we are called to share Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. If you do not know my burden then you cannot bear it. However, if you make it clear to me that you will not bear my burden then I will be most disinclined to share it.
- Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honoured, as happened among you, 2 and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith (2 Thess. 3:1-2) is what Paul says to the Thessalonians. One reason to share with others is to give them material so that they can pray for us. Do we want others to be praying for yourself? Then get information to them about yourself.
- Interaction and sharing lead to flourishing and growing relationships. Relationships grow when there is the obvious willingness to be involved with another person and share time and life with them. By showing keen interest in another person and wanting to spend time with them you indicate that you want them to be a part of your life.
- If there is a certain activity or work that the other person is doing and you show no interest in it then the message you are giving is that you are not interested them. If the other person perceives this, then they are unlikely to want to share much of their situation with you.
- If you are in pastoral ministry then you have a calling to care. In fact if there is no desire to care in your heart then you should not be in that position. In caring you take an interest in the other person, and you want to know about them and listen to them. In fact you should always be wanting to be increasingly aware of the sheep under your care. As a result there can be the danger that you don’t reciprocate with sharing about yourself. It can be with the best of intentions. However, the other person can come away feeling short-changed because they have given you a lot and you have given them nothing.
- Times also change in relationships. There can be seasons when you need to share with another person and they need to share with you.
- A further perspective here is that leaders create cultures. If the leader is self-obsessed and always vaunting himself above people, then that will creates that kind of culture. If a leader is too quiet and shares nothing then you will end up with a very secretive community.
Lots for me to continue to think about for life and mins try.