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As an introvert I tend to be more observant than I am to be observed. I’m a fan of all kinds of music because it is a window into what people as a whole are trying to say. What makes me feel like I have a purpose and a mission in life is to live as if it’s not all for me. In everything we learn, if we have an intention of sharing that lesson with others, we feel connected to the world. This isn’t taking on the role of God, it’s taking on a role with God. So this is where music comes in for me. I need to understand what people are saying so I can see if I have something to offer or if I have something to learn. So many of us take on positions to help others but feel lost in how to do it. We won’t know everything, but we can always get better if we are intentional about learning. Read on and see how a few songs helped me get more connected with people and how to truly help them.
My personal favorite genre falls in the electronic realm. Artists like Shallou, RKCB, Yoste and those like them are almost always playing if you are around me. A lot of electronic artists, like those guys, have mastered the art of brevity, sharing their vision in very few words. As I was listening to a personal playlist on Spotify, a couple of songs played back to back and I couldn’t help but notice a trend. The first song was “Open Arms” by RKCB (check this song out here) and it opens with these lyrics:
“You say that you want to save me,
Well how come you never hear me out?
I know that you’re frustrated.
Are you always, love?”
The chorus goes on to say:
“I’m on my own in the cold of the rain.
Will you be my shelter?
Will you be my open arms?”
The next song that came on was “Feel Good” by Gryffin/Illenium featuring Daya (listen here) and this one opens with:
“Yeah I doubt, I doubt myself
And I’m too proud to ask for help.
Don’t want to know that I’m not right
I know that I’ve been lately”
The chorus goes on to say,
“Take my hand in the middle of a crisis
Pull me close, show me baby where the light is.”
I have definitely just pulled two songs out that I personally liked enough to add to this playlist and then listen to them again. That’s not enough to significantly add a statistically supported argument that the whole world needs this “thing” but I think we can all agree on this: there is something here.
The trend in this is that people are saying if you really want to make a difference in their lives and lead them to help, work on getting good at these three skills.
Both of these songs talk about the need of being heard. As you read in the second song, she already knew she was not in the right, but she needed to be heard before she could move on. When we listen to people, we hear what hurts. The act of just being there and letting them struggle through their expression of emotion is the biggest promoter of healing we as helpers have to offer. Allowing people to speak and to feel without “fixing them” helps them identify what it is they are going through without clouding that understanding with anger. Listening sets people up for acceptance.
Once people feel like they have been heard comes the real test. They will wonder if you accept them. By speaking up at all they put themselves in a position of vulnerability and you are left with an imbalance of power. Your acceptance of their situation translates into your acceptance of them as a person. Acceptance levels out that balance of power and puts both people back in a productive position. This is why you feel good inside accepting someone and making them feel comfortable in usually uncomfortable situations. It feels good because you handled something important the right way. Acceptance starts in the heart so don’t think you can fake it to be kind and make a true difference. In a time of vulnerability, our senses are elevated and we become experts at spotting authenticity. Even if in the moment you don’t feel authentic, spend some time in prayer afterward and get that off before you follow up with the person and do it quick to maintain their trust. Acceptance primes them to receive the message of forgiveness.
Once you have listened and shown them they are accepted in their situation, you have set the stage for the true power of forgiveness. It is the most powerful and complete helping tool we have. This is when you can share with someone that no matter what they have done, no matter what they will do, they are worth love. You have heard them, you restored power in them through acceptance, and they are ready to receive love through forgiveness. We can give this power because we have also received this power through the cross.
Our job as helpers doesn’t mean we personally set every stone for people to walk on. I believe more people would step up, step out, and help if we just knew that people generally want to help themselves. We just need to be there to guide and reset. Think about what you truly need when you need help. Could you offer that back out?
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So many of us are just followers of something. Maybe a musician, a sports team, a role model, a great father figure…Yet we are also leaders whether we know it or not. What do you consider yourself? Think about this question now and then again after you are finished reading. I’m curious to see if your thought changes.
I read some study results that a gosling will follow the first thing it sets its eyes on once they open. That is usually the mother, but if the mother isn’t around, you might find a little goose following a human around. The same thing happens with babies. Human babies that is. They start mimicking others within just weeks of their birth. We see this continue into the teen years and adulthood as well that people generally follow a crowd or they follow something. We even have names for it: bandwagon, poser, follower, whatever.
“Ok so I follow some things. I don’t have a ‘leader’ title..”
Consider someone fresh off a life change. Maybe they decided to give their hearts over to the way of Jesus and they want to focus on that. Maybe someone decides to stop doing drugs after years. Maybe quit smoking cigarettes? On the healthier side of things, maybe someone just decided to get married or go back to school. All of these things put this person in a new position. They are basically babies again in a given situation. Imagine you have experience in any of these areas and this person comes around you. Are you just a follower now to them?
You have now become a leader to them. You have the influence to shape that person’s view of that situation. If you are the first person trusted to give advice and your viewpoint is discouraging, that person will likely adopt the same view. If they are healthy and mature, they would know not to form their opinion after hearing just one from someone else, but the truth is that we’re not all healthy and mature like that. We are needy. We need to lean on each other. Your influence is powerful and you have it whether you see it or not.
This can only be done if we are self-disciplined in such a way that we anticipate this need from someone. It is a true servant and brotherhood mentality. If we expect a person to approach us for advice and we understand that we have the influence to sway them one way or another, we better equip ourselves to show love to this person. Maybe I show you love by not swaying you with bias at all. Maybe I sway you one direction because I think it might protect you, or the other direction because even though it would be hard, I know it would help you grow. One thing is certain though: that I thought about how my answer might effect you. I imagine the people that practice this have such a beautiful community. I want to get connected with leading people to peace.
How could you prepare to lead someone when the time comes?
Proverbs 11:14-Where there is no guidance the people will fall. In abundance of counselors there is victory.