But Are You Connecting?
I stumbled upon a social media writers group. It wasn’t a Christian writing group, just a writing group for all writers. The very first post was from someone promoting their book, but their post said, “Help me get 200 followers by the new year, and follow my page.”
I thought to myself; after this person reaches their 200 followers, then what? They’ll probably want 400 followers, then 800, and so on. But how likely is it that this person will personally connect with any of those followers?
In John Maxwell’s book, Everyone Communicates. Few Connect, he says, “Connecting is the ability to identify with people and relate to them in a way that increases your influence with them. Why is that important? Because the ability to communicate and connect with others is a major determining factor in reaching your potential.”
Maxwell goes on to say, “People who do not know how to connect make the same mistake, and that is they see themselves as the center of the conversation.”
Matthew 8:1-3 “When Jesus had come down from the mountain, great crowds followed him: and there was a leper who came to him and knelt before him saying, Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean. He stretched out his hand and touched him saying, “I do choose. Be made clean!”
Speaking from the perspective of a Christian writer, I am amazed how often we DO NOT follow the examples of Jesus Christ as we serve Him. In Matthew 8:1-3, a leper comes to Jesus and asks for healing. Jesus reached out His hand and touched the man, and said be clean. This is an important emphasis because leprosy is a very contagious skin disease. No one in that day wanted to come near a person with leprosy, yet Jesus touched the man and said be clean. Jesus did not have to touch the man to make him clean. Jesus could have simply spoke, “be clean”, but didn’t. He touched the man and him clean.
There are so many examples in the Bible of Jesus connecting with people on a personal level.
When I entered Bible college ten years ago, one of my classmates was a pastor. He had countless stories of speakers he’d invite to his church who would only stay in a hotel (not the church parsonage) and would not stay to meet the congregation afterwards. These Christian speakers communicated their message, but they failed to connect with the people they were serving.
Mark 2:15-17 “While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners.”
I served on the board of a Christian support group for our homeschool community. The group was the largest group in the city before I arrived. However, when the new leader took over a few years ago, the group slowly declined. The group’s leader would spend our entire meeting on a total soap box rant about how the group was once the largest group in the city.
What this particular group leader totally failed to realize was she had no direct connection with any of the families except her close friends. The group only got so big because of one specific resource they offered until other groups began to duplicate it. The group was big, but there was no personal connection, from leadership, to the families. We planned many events for that group, yet the group leader did not attend any of them. When she did show up to something, she never spoke to anyone. Most people had no idea she was even the group’s leader. Yet, she was highly upset at the group’s decline.
Jesus was among people. He sat with people. He showed people He cared for them. We cannot be so focused on the growth of something, yet, be foolish enough to ignore the people whom we are serving.
Have you ever noticed a marathon runner? They are running non stop for a few hours. They are looking straight ahead. They don’t even stop to grab water. If they reach their hand out for water, and the cup falls, they keep running with their hand out until they grab hold of another cup. They drink the water, throw the cup on the ground, and keep going.
That’s fine for marathon runners. That’s not okay if you expect to be a godly leader. You cannot keep writing blogs, keep speaking, keep writing books – yet never stop to connect with the people whom God has put in your path. You cannot put yourself on top and put people below you and expect longevity.
Jesus is sitting at the well…
John 4: 7 “A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her “Give me a drink.” The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is that you , a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman on Samaria?”
My husband is a volunteer youth coach and teacher at our church. Our church media team captures great pictures of church events. Last year, they happened to capture a few pictures of my husband in teaching or explaining mode. In each picture my husband is on his knees looking up to the children listening to them.
Why does my husband do this?
For one, so the children don’t feel threatened, especially if he’s in a teaching mode. But also, to get on their level and to let them know he cares about what they have to say. My husband has tremendous influence with the students at our church. (And we attend a very large church) He’s frequently requested as a youth coach.
Because he wins a lot of games?
No. He’s had hit and miss winning seasons.
The parents love his passion to teach and his personal connection to their children.
You see, we have leadership backwards. We think it’s about us. We think we are the center of attention.
A famous quote by Theodore Roosevelt: “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
Jesus cared about people. He is our example. You might be the missing link to your ministry because you haven’t learned how to connect with the people you’re serving.
Stop the marathon race for a moment and get to know the people you’re influencing.
Don’t worry about physical growth – but rather spiritual growth. The people you influence will grow, and so will you…
And most importantly the kingdom of God will grow.