During the past few weeks of jogging here in New Zealand, I have become known as the guy who jogs with the blue shirt, black shorts, black and blue shoes and yellow cap. Yes, I jog with a cap because the risk of sunburn here is very high compared to other parts of the world. I jog three different routes; the route I take on a given day is determined by the distance of my run.
While jogging, I occasionally stop and talk with someone. I usually say my name, but not often do I get a name from them. We will converse about life in our different countries, and then it will eventually come down to talking about the weather. Many farmers and people who grew up on farms in the area live so naturally, the weather is an important topic!
I began thinking about how I am known in the community by those who see me jogging daily. I then wondered, how do people remember us after they have encountered us?
Maya Angelo said,
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
This quote is always in the back of my mind when I am talking with the people I meet. I am asking myself, “I wonder how I made them feel as I conversed with them? Did they feel respected, heard and valued? Or was the conversation all about me – telling them about myself, what life is like in the United States or Trinidad, and about my family?”
I intentionally try to make the conversation about others: who they are, what they do, and what questions they want answered. On most occasions I do OK, but at times I find myself making the conversation all about me. I am sure there were times I left people feeling unheard and unvalued because the conversation was all about me.
How people experience us makes a lasting impression on them. As I get to know people in the town of Dargaville, New Zealand, I am intentional in trying to make them feel valued, heard and respected. I want to be to them as Jesus was to the woman at the well in John 4.
At the end of the conversation, the woman felt so respected, heard, understood, loved and cared for, that she went and told others about this person and how he made her feel. She wanted everyone in the town to meet him.
I wonder how many people want their neighbors and friends to meet us after engaging with us in conversation?
As followers of Jesus Christ, when people encounter us and engage us in conversation, we should strive to leave them feeling as the woman at the well after she’d experienced Jesus.
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