I read a great article by Brandon Cox about how to invest in people. I also listened to Daniel Harkavy from Building Champions talk about Investing in People. They both had similar things to say. The bottom line is that if you are a leader, if you have influence with other people around you, then you should be investing in people. As a Christ follower we also need to be investing in people to show them the love of Jesus and introduce them to him.
Brandon Cox gave these 8 simple ways to invest in people:
*Schedule three to five informal meetings per week – coffee, lunch, etc. – with people into whom you want to invest.
*Take potential leaders on trips with you. I’ve heard great leaders talk about the mentoring power of never traveling alone. My Worship Pastor calls it “windshield time.”
*If you’re a Pastor, take a partner as you do pastoral care – hospital visits, etc. Just the time in the car on the way is a great opportunity.
*Buy and send books to leaders. I’ve received and given books that have shaped who I am.
*Check in with a phone call. Have a list of potential leaders into whom you’re pouring, and randomly call them once a month or so.
*Convene conversations. Gather leaders who aspire to be involved in the things you’ve spent your life doing and let them connect with each other.
*Listen. Pouring into leaders doesn’t mean doing all the talking. It often means lending an ear in a tough moment.
*Connect leaders to other leaders. It’s powerful when we say, “here’s a friend of mine you need to connect with.”
You can adapt these ideas to your situation, but to invest in people you must be pro-active. You have to take the initiative and put things on your calendar, make the phone call, write the note, schedule the trip, buy the book. You can invest in your children, your spouse, your friends at work or the neighbor next door by doing some of these things.
Empathy is critical to emotional health. This is the ability to discern emotions in others and then experience, within ourselves, the same emotion. This is much different than sympathy, which is the mental awareness of what another person is going through.
Developing the ability to empathize is important if you want to improve your relationships and get healthy emotionally. Why is it important to be healthy emotionally. Well, I believe that our emotions play a big part in our physical and spiritual health as well. Emotions live inside us and if painful emotions are living inside you they eventually come out in behavior, thoughts and attitude. Unresolved emotions can lead to physical illness and mental damage as well. It also affects your relationship with God.
Emotions should not control us, we should understand and control our emotions. We should not try to shut off our emotions or hide them, that is why empathy is so important. It helps us to connect with and understand other people much better.
To develop empathy we must learn to listen and observe words, sounds and body language. Jesus was amazingly empathetic. He was moved with compassion as he discerned the needs and pain of others. Read Mathew 9:36 and 20:34.
When we can empathize with someone three things will happen:
1. The other person will feel that someone cares for them and is willing to enter into their emotional world.
2. They feel like someone understands them.
3. They feel that it’s ok to be emotional and express emotions, in other words, my emotions are legitimate.
All emotions can be grouped into two categories: Potentially painful and potentially positive. The Bible teaches us how to attune or empathize to these two groups of emotions. In Romans 12:15 it says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.”
When someone is sad, we often think it is important to try to cheer them up. That is our natural response, but what is actually most helpful is to be sad with that person. Seems odd, but that is what empathy is. The people around us will feel blessed when we allow and encourage them to express their positive or painful emotions and we either rejoice or mourn with them.
This life skill of empathy is a game-changer for relating to other people. This skill allows you to connect with people in a way that helps them feel safe and valued. They will actually feel better after talking with you than before. It also helps you to better understand why people do what they do.
As a mentor and a pastor this skill has helped me to help other people. When people cannot process their emotions with someone they end up in a downward spiral that leads to destruction of relationships, and their physical well being. It often causes them to feel distant from God as well. To stay healthy emotionally a person must be able to process and express their emotions to God and other people.
As a leader, spouse, parent, boss, employee, sibling or friend, the ability to empathize will improve your relationships and deepen them as well. Learning this skill takes time, effort and patience. Paying attention to the details, asking the right questions and sometimes just being silent and feeling the emotion the other person is feeling. This can be hard work and frustrating at times, but in the long run empathy leads to better emotional health for you and those around you.
I was listening to a podcast interview with author and speaker Rory Vanden, talking about his new book Take the Stairs: 7 Steps to Achieving True Success. I bought the book today and plan on reading it right away.
One of the stories he talked about was about the difference between cows and buffalo.
In Colorado they have both cows and buffalo. One of the unique differences is how they react when a storm is heading their way. Cows will see a storm coming and will turn and try to run away from the storm. The storm usually catches them and they actually run with the storm and suffer along the way. The Buffalo will see a storm coming and will run right at the storm. They end up running right through the storm and only encounter a short time of suffering and discomfort.
Most of us act more like cows than buffalo. We try to avoid the storms of life by running away from them. Our natural response is to escape and run in the opposite direction, when we really should run right at the storm.
When we run at the storm we are facing reality and are doing the hard thing. But by doing the hard thing we minimize the pain long-term by making the difficult decision now.
So if your in the midst of a storm, turn and face it. Don’t allow the fear of the storm to make you turn tail and run. Have the hard conversation, ask the tough questions, set the firm boundaries, say no and run right through the storm.
The only way we can do this is with the help of God. If you are running from a storm, ask God to give you the courage to face that storm head on and the wisdom to know how to run through it.