Monday Morning Insights

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    The tendency to overlook people who are “not like me”

    The tendency to overlook people who are “not like me”

    I'm excited to share a little excerpt of my friend Eric Bryant's new book "Not Like Me" with you today.  The book is subtitled "A Field Guide for Influencing a Diverse World", but the book is really about love... learning to love those around you... particularly those people who aren't exactly like you.

    Here's one of my favorite sections from the book:

    Some of us have overlooked those who are in the grip of poverty.  For others of us, we may disregard children, senior citizens, innovators, unreached people groups, the abused, the abusers, the victims, the imprisoned, those with whom we disagree theologically, those who are physically challeneged, those who are mentally challenged, and those who are overweight.  Some of us may even struggle to embrace others who might be accepted more readily.

    When we love those who are overlooked or deemed untouchable by society, we should listen to them so we can learn from them the best ways to servethem, avoiding the temptation to come rushing in as a 'hero' or a 'knight in shining armor.'

    Considering our life experiences, passions, personality, and gifts, and God's leading, we should look beyond those we normally see to discover others we can serve.

    As Jesus looked around at the men and women who followed him so that they could mooch a free meal, he described them as valuable and significant, as "salt and light" (see Matthew 5:13-14).  Jesus saw the blind, those with leprosy, and the poor and met their needs.  Jesus also saw those whose wallets were full but whose hearts were empty.  Jesus loved them all.  Jesus reached out and touched the untouchables.

    That kind of hit home.  I overlook a lot of different types of people... and Eric is right... it's easy to overlook people who are not like me.

    I think one of the problems with churches... one of the reasons so many churches are so in-grown is exactly this reason:  the look to serve people only like themselves.  In fact, most churches have taken it a step further serving ONLY themselves, not even people LIKE themselves.

    Churches that are growing; churches that are reaching people are doing so by looking at people who are not being reached.

    I think you'll find that Eric's book will challenge you as you think about how you (and your church) look at others.  Do you really value people like Jesus values people?  What can you do differently to change your mindset to be more effective and God-honoring?  "Not Like Me" will help you navigate.

    If you'd like more information on Eric, check out Ed Stetzer's great interview from yesterday here.

    And if you want to grab a copy of the book, you can purchase one right here at Amazon.


    PS -- Which groups of people have you been overlooking?


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    1. J. on Thu, October 14, 2010

      It’s interesting to me that this one has no comments yet.  This site appears to have some commenters that seem to jump at the opportunity to share their thoughts about anyone that doesn’t agree wholeheartidly with every little nuance of their personal convictions so I figured this would spur on some really good dialogue…  Maybe this struck a chord and encouraged growth.  There’s always room to grow.

      I know for me sometimes I have a hard time with groups of people that see everything as an ‘essential’.  By that I mean that if you make a statement and they agree with 99.9% of what you say-but maybe not how you said it, or what you were wearing when you said it, or in what order you said it-they ignore the 99.9% that they agree with as if it doesn’t exist.  Like if I say, “so I was out with a friend the other night and we were talking about ____…” their first question is, “why wasn’t your wife there?  You shouldn’t be out without your wife-she should always be there when you are doing ministry” or something irrelevant like that…  Or they want to argue about what car you drive or what music you listen to, or what translations of the Bible you use or what art you have hanging in your hosue (or that you have art at all hanging in your house).  Personally I have a bit of a tendancy to want to overlook that group because it can just be plain old annoying, and the truth is-they need Jesus just like anyone else…and in a special way, they need Jesus so that they might stop being a ‘clagging gong’...

      I really need to watch myself because it can become just as dangerous on my part.  It’s kinda like the kid that cried wolf.  After a while no one listens but on the other hand-I still need to take what they say on a case by case basis on the off chance that they might finally have a point.  I don’t need to just let classical conditioning do it’s thing and render their comments null and void due to their history-without even thinking on it and seeing if there is any validity to what they are saying.

      Good article brother…  I have some work to do…

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