One Way to Grow Relationships

My mom has said time after time in conflict, “Seek to understand, then be understood.” I had no idea this one of Stephen Covey’s principles from Seven Highly Effective People. Regardless of the fact my beloved Mom didn’t give credit, (and to her credit she never told me it was her own) the principle still applies. One of the ways we seek to understand people who are different than us is through listening to their story with an open mind.

So often we label someone not like us as “other”. The problem with this is we alienate the “other”, we speak for them, we assume we know what they are thinking without spending any time with them or listening to their story. Christ calls on us to love those who are in our family, love those who are in our church, and to even love our enemies. It is hard to do this when we see them as “other”.

I challenge you to do what Jesus illustrated so well, listen to the other persons story. Jesus did this with so many people who could have been the “other”: the woman at the well, Zacchaeus, the man with many demons, the woman who is bleeding, Mary Magdalene, and others. In order to understand someone, you must first seek to understand them. In order to do that, you must listen to their story. Don’t label someone “other” until you have sought to understand them through listening deeply and openly to their story.

For the Kingdom,
Jonathan Barlow

P.S. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for the five year anniversary gift. The Barlow’s are very grateful for the past five years and the way you have loved on us and our three boys! The time truly has flown by!