“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4 NIV)
In my last post, I revealed my one-word resolution for 2018 – mindfulness. In response to that post, many of you have offered your own. Each one was excellent and, if followed through, will no doubt bring us all closer to being the person God desires us to become in the new year.
Like “mindfulness”, so many of the words you selected for your one-word resolution can be applied in multiple areas of our lives. They include:
Last time, I focused on my intention to be mindful of my time, both in terms of years I have ahead of me and the way I spend the hours available to me each day.
The second area in which I want to be more mindful in 2018 is my interactions with others. By nature, I am very much an introvert. When I met my wife thirty-five years ago, her first impression was that I was a “snob”.
People who have attended my classes and heard me go on and on about a passage of Scripture express amazement that I can talk so much in front of a class teaching and so little at the lunch table afterwards. The trick is that before I stand in front of a class, I have written down word-for-word everything I plan to say.
Extemporaneous may be in my vocabulary but it is not within my ability when it comes to speaking. I suppose that is why I gravitated to writing.
But to be the witness God has called me to be, I need to be more mindful of and engaging with the people he places in my path – from the person waiting my table at the restaurant, to the cashier at the grocery store, to the strangers I encounter every day.
The potential impact of a single encounter with a stranger is exemplified by Jesus’s encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well in John Chapter 4. Though everyone in Sychar apparently avoided her, our Lord engaged her in a deep conversation that not only changed her life, but transformed her into a powerful witness, leading many Samaritans to faith in Christ as “the Savior of the world”. (John 4:42 NIV)
At the close of 2017 I encountered a perfect modern-day example of being mindful of others when I read Walking to Listen, the memoir of a young man named Andrew Forsthoefel. At the age of 23, having just graduated from college, Andrew left his home in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania with a loaded backpack, a tape recorder, and a sign on his back which read “Walking to Listen” and began an 11-month walk across America.
I was fascinated by the number of people who welcomed Andrew into their homes and shared their stories and life philosophies with him. Inspired by his courage and his desire to engage with others so different from himself, I was reminded of the importance of personal engagement in a world that is growing increasingly insular.
At the close of the book, Andrew thanks everyone he met on his walk for “teaching me what I was asking to learn, showing me what I needed to see, and telling me what I was open to hear.”
Those words truly resonate with me as I seek to be more mindful of others in 2018, and I would be delighted to hear any suggestions you may have that might help me achieve that goal.
You can learn more about Andrew and his incredible journey by <clicking here>.
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” – Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird