I have a great friend who recently challenged our daughter to seek out and add quality relationships to her inner circle. To stretch and grow with new relationships, teaching her that there is a world of people to know and much we can learn from others. This friend feels as I do–relationships are key in life–a treasure to be mined. Now that I am on the Back 9, I really don’t like to talk about the weather or carry on small talk with people. Given the chance, if I can get one-on-one with someone, I like to go deep.
The one thing I have come to realize is this…. if I ask the right questions of people and then stop and listen…God will teach me through others. Scripture challenges us to “Apply your heart to instruction, And your ears to words of knowledge,” (Proverbs 23:12). Of course the circumstances have to be right ….. like a planned time and place. Some of my favorite questions to ask?
What books have you read…that I should read?
How has failure shaped your life?
What have you done that I should do?
How can I add value to you?
These are just a few of the questions I love to ask. Since I have been on a quest to sincerely grow and learn from others and to deepen my relationships, I usually only get through 2 or 3 of the questions before hours have passed. It has opened up rich and meaningful discussion. There has been laughter, learning, and tears…..and yes…growth…for me for sure.
I am challenged by Proverbs 22:17-21. “Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, And apply your heart to my knowledge; For it is a pleasant thing if you keep them within you; Let them all be fixed upon your lips, so that your trust may be in the Lord; I have instructed you today, even you. Have I not written to you excellent things of counsels and knowledge, that I may make you know the certainty of the words of truth, that you may answer words of truth to those who send to you?”
I have found there is much to know about people and basically if you don’t ask, they don’t tell. Most conversations stay at the surface sometimes even with the closest of friends. As I have started to mine the lives and minds of others and their experiences, I can tell you–it is like mining for gold. The richness of people and their experiences, which includes suffering and pain, have been a “white board” of wisdom for me. It also has strengthened my faith……and my prayer life. It has shown me God’s faithfulness to others. In some cases I have been able to share my faith.
Just the other day, I got to go deep with a friend. One whom I have known for years but have had no time to go deep. But we made the time this time. I was shocked to hear of the depths of her pain and suffering. I walked away from our time together enriched by her sharing and her tears. I felt attached to her…an attachment of relating…a magnetizing of two hearts which created a desire to intercede for her.
My love for her grew instantly deeper. Her honesty and transparency were so refreshing. She didn’t have it all figured out but what she had figured out and found in her spiritual life brought an extreme joy to my heart. I walked away feeling like I had literally grown an inch taller…or maybe a pound wiser. She watered, fertilized and tilled the soil of my heart.
I certainly don’t know what is in store in the days to come in our world. God does. But I do know the resource He cares most about is people. He created everyone of us and we are to deeply care for others.
I realize we can’t care for and know everyone but I encourage you today…ask God who it is that you are supposed to reach out to…to go deeper with…to learn from…to listen to. Proverbs 16:24 reminds us that “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, Sweetness to the soul and health to the bones.”
I promise you…if you pray and ask God to show you, HE WILL NOT disappoint. He will provide a person. Not only will your heart be nourished but you will be fertilizer for someone else.
“When you encourage others, you in the process are encouraged because you’re making a commitment and difference in that person’s life. Encouragement really does make a difference.” ~Zig Ziglar