Amazingly enough, Almighty God is people-oriented. He identifies totally with human beings. We can see this in the way he communicates with us in the Scriptures and in how he revealed himself in the incarnation of Christ. He wants to relate with us intimately.
How can we follow God’s example and become more people-oriented ourselves? How can we be more sensitive to those around us? Here are some suggestions:
Focus on people
Make sure the most important things you do each day involve a focus on people. Projects are transient. Deadlines soon “die.” Do-lists may never be really done, or need to be. But people are eternal.
Reach beyond your own world
Make an effort to have contact and relationships with different kinds of people. Reach beyond your normal sphere of influence to touch those who are not similar to you in race, economic and social status, age, and so on. Making friendships outside your immediate world can be a little frightening at first, and will take time. But it will also be rewarding.
To do this, one couple I know took a short course at their local community college to learn how to teach English, and then began tutoring some Southeast Asian refugees in their city. At first this disrupted their normal family routine, but the experience for them and their family has been rewarding, not to mention the impact for Christ on the refugees.
Pray-and be alert
Ask God to send people to you. Then stay alert for those who take the initiative to talk with you, at any level and for any length of time. These are the people who will often be most receptive to your friendliness. Usually they come to you for help in meeting some inner need, even though they might ask you something as trivial as how you plant your garden. But even if this is the sum total of their contact at first, their interest will deepen and broaden the more they interact with you.
At least two things foster curiosity about the way we live and the source of our life: the joy we express and the love we show. People are irresistibly drawn to Christians who sincerely manifest those two qualities.
Don’t be afraid to be different
In communication at any level, it has been noted that where predictability is high, impact is low. That is, when people know exactly how we will act and what we will say and how we will say it, the impact of our lives may be minimal. If non-Christians around us can “predict” how we will react or what we will say because “that’s the way those religious people are,” then our influence on them will be insignificant. But if we respond to each person in a sensitive and loving way-recognizing his or her uniqueness-the impact can be great.
Let us share in the lives of those around us as we follow Christ’s example: “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity” (Hebrews 2:14).