Ed worked with the CFO of a large company. The CFO drove Ed and others crazy because he was so rigid on how all the department heads could spend their budgets. Ed figured the man was a control freak. When the company invited the department heads and directors to an off-site planning meeting, one of the activities they did was to share one story of overcoming adversity. The CFO shared how his family grew up poor, but he managed to escape that poverty. He then added, “I guess that’s why I am so frugal with our resources. I never want to be poor again.” This was a light bulb moment for Ed. By knowing a little of his CFO’s story, he understood some of his motivation and character.*
We connect with people through common activities or places, such as church, running, reading, or work. However, connecting does not equal knowing. Knowing comes when we build relationships. We learn each other’s stories. We ask questions that help us see the person, not a position or title. In starting to know someone, we build the foundation of trust.
This piece of wisdom is a good application of Paul’s words to the Philippians when he wrote, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Phil. 2:3,4, ESV) Knowing our brothers and sisters happens when we put their story first and learn who they are and where they have come from. When we have a disagreement, we can trust there is no evil intent in our spiritual siblings if we have built a relationship of mutual concern and knowing.
This may seem so simple, yet it is a foundational piece missing from simple mutual connections. We think we know someone because we see them all the time or like the same sports team. We allow affinity to stand in for knowing each other. It works until someone gets hurt; then the fragile trust is broken.
Do you know who I am? You may know the public persona, but there is stuff below the surface to learn about me. The same is true for you. Let’s make it a point to care enough to truly know each other. And if we have been separated by a past hurt or sin, let’s make it a point to forgive one another for the good of the whole body of Christ, that we might continue to do the Lord’s purposes in this place together. Let’s learn to know each other… and let trust blossom.
Pastor Mike Spinelli
* from Patrick Lencioni’s The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business.