There is a well-known book from the mid-twentieth century entitled: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. It continues to sell after all these years. There is a reason for this – it does have good content – “common sense” ideas (although apparently not!) about making people feel significant. Many can learn from this book. The problem is that the underlying philosophy is off, and it appeals (perhaps indirectly) to selfish motives for wanting to win friends and influence people. I said once in another blog post that someone needs to write a Christian version of this book, grounded in better ideas about God and self. [On my list of stuff to do eventually!]
But in regards to how to win friends and influence people… As Christians we should want to help others feel significant. There is a difference between feeding someone’s ego or flattery (not good) and letting people know that they matter in this life – that they have some significance. No one should feel like they are an invisible person. Each individual is unique and made in the image of God. Christ died for them and loves them.
I think this is one reason people were so drawn to Jesus in the Gospels. Jesus was busy and on-the-go, yet he noticed people – particularly overlooked people and marginalized people. Jesus would see ONE person in a crowd and stop for them. Jesus made people feel significant. This is a meme I shared in the past:
In another past post, I mention Philip Yancey. Yancey reflected on the fact that he tended to approach life as a sequence rather than as a series of moments. He carefully scheduled his time and set goals, steadily moving toward their achievement. In his march forward each day, Yancey would view phone calls or any unscheduled event as a jarring interruption. Then he contrasted this to the style of the Lord Jesus Christ who often let other people (interruptions!) determine His daily life. Life was more like a series of moments for Jesus, and He would stop and give His full attention to the person before Him.
How about us? Of course, we can’t measure up to Jesus, yet I think we can all improve in this area.
I’ve observed something many times over the years, both in “real life” and online:
One person shares an idea or asks for help, and are pretty much ignored. While another person does the same, and they get all kinds of replies, likes, support, offers! What the…? (There are some people who might be ignored because they over-share, cry wolf, etc but that is NOT what I observed in these situations.)
Someone stops attending an adult Sunday school class or small church, and not a soul notices – or if it was noticed, no one inquired or reached out. While another individual stops showing up, and much outreach is done.
Someone told me they suddenly and without notice stopped using facebook, and they began getting calls and texts from people noting their absence and wanting to make sure they were okay. While another person also stopped using facebook, and not a soul reached out.
Sometimes I think the “popularity contest” that began in high school never goes away? We give attention to or are drawn to the popular personality, and overlook others. We make ourselves feel significant by interacting with that popular person? But what about helping other people feel significant?
Thoughts?? Ideas?? Why do we give fanfare to some and overlook others?
Perhaps we need to prayerfully analyze our own behavior? Are we giving most of our attention to people who already get plenty of attention?
Maybe we need to pray for spiritual vision, and to see the overlooked, forgotten, and marginalized. Helping someone feel significant, that they matter in the sight of God, can involve such little things:
Remember someone’s name. Smile when you see them.
If they weren’t in class the week before, say “I missed you last week.”
If someone shared a prayer request a couple weeks ago, ask for an update. “I’ve prayed about ‘x’ – how is it going?”
If online: click like, leave a comment, or share their post.
If you appreciate someone’s thought, whether shared in a class or online, let them know. “I appreciate your thoughtful contributions. You always give me something to think about.”