Delighting in people is SO important.
When I started teaching, I claimed the saying, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” because I needed a reminder of the importance of relationship. A lot of teachers delight in content but not in students, which is a sure-fire way to teach kids who always get ‘A’s, and neglect the rest of the class. It’s a sure-fire way to maintain the status quo, rather than changing it in the lives of ‘C’ students who’ve never reached their potential.
It’s funny how this keeps coming up in my life lately.
When I first went to big church back in December, I was on a quest to find someone to disciple me.
Sometimes I don’t even know what that means.
My mom recently asked me some questions about the quest, and I gave her the old fall-back line about iron sharpening iron… which is completely true (being that it’s from the Bible and all), but loses its meaning from overuse. I tried to explain to her how important it is to have models who’re living a relationship with Christ further down the road from where I’m at. I think I said something about needing a person to get advice from and just having someone care.
But after talking around the real thing, I think I finally hit something when I thought about why my mom was asking. She and my dad live pretty separately from most of the world. They don’t have a community they belong to together (or even separately). They attend church without living in and with the church (see how my attempts at embracing vulnerability are a real break off from the family norm).
So… to explain my quest to my mom, I tried to think about the way God Himself is in community. He is 3 persons in 1, which is really cool.
And we totally get to see God delighting in Himself/His community. The best examples I can think of are when Jesus proclaims the Father’s glory or explains what it’s like when the Helper comes.
He delights in His community.
Along those same lines, we have to delight in our own communities. We need to delight in those people around us who are completely different from ourselves.
Of course, delight is this crazy-wonderful thing that can and is worshipful in and of itself – we can better know God when we see how fearfully and wonderfully made we all are.
However, beyond the divine familiarity we gain with our Creator from seeing Him in everything and everyone around us, we also draw more intimately close to each other.
In contrast to that, the absence of delight causes distance.
In my quest to find someone to disciple me, there were quite a few options. However, I knew who I wanted from a 5-minute interchange. 🙂
With Jennifer (she’s the one I knew was the perfect fit), I didn’t even talk to her one-on-one before I knew. We were at a dinner with a bunch of people, and I was actually talking to her husband. He was asking me questions about my heart and previous ministry experience. She wasn’t even there for the beginning of the conversation, but part-way through, she sat down and listened.
From what I can tell, listening is the first and most obvious way of delighting in another person.
And she didn’t just listen to take in information about me. She wasn’t trying to remember the things I’d said so she could use them in our next conversation.
There was empathy all over her face.
There was love.
There was delight.
And I didn’t need to know if she’d ever read a John Piper book or listened to a Matt Chandler sermon. I didn’t need to know what her thoughts are on predestination and the sovereignty of God.
Because her beliefs were written all over her heart – the heart she’d listened with.
It’s so easy to think that discipleship is about knowledge, preparedness and experience, but the truth is that discipleship begins with heart. It begins with delight… just as knowledge, preparedness and experience begin with delight. We study because we’ve known the living God. We’ve delighted in Him, and therefore, our study has purpose and meaning. Discipleship isn’t study for study’s sake. It’s relationship based on common delight in God and in each other.
Another way I’m thinking about it has to do with critique partners. I’ve had quite a few people read my manuscript now. All of them responded in one of two ways… they either gushed about the parts they liked, asked questions, and offered ideas OR they offered ideas and corrections. The people who’re still reading for me are the ones who delighted first and corrected second…
Because before a person can correct your story, he has to understand and appreciate the story.
If he doesn’t, you can’t be sure that he’s telling you how to reach the ideal of the story you’re working towards. He might be advising you to write a cool story that isn’t at all what you set out to write… or maybe even one that you’re capable of writing or would like.
Thanks to Jennifer for delighting and understanding my story first, and correcting and offering ideas second. We haven’t known each other long, but I’m delighted to have her in my life 🙂
*I ran across the title phrase up there from a post on the Mars Hill blog.