Friday, 10 March 2017 10:15

A Good Attitude Toward People

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Last month I attended the Louisiana Baptist Evangelism conference. At the conference I heard a sermon that was encouraging and convicting to me. This sermon was about our attitude toward people.

Evangelist Phil Waldrep preached from the neglected passage in Rom. 16. In this passage Paul sends greetings to various people with whom he was associated. Almost half of the chapter was devoted to “greeting” these people. To be honest, the passage is somewhat monotonous to read. Bro. Phil shared three truths that made this passage come alive.

These truths reflect our behavior and attitude toward people. Our success in ministry is dependent on our response and attitude toward people. Consider these truths.

  1. We need to appreciate people. Paul expressed appreciation to “Priscilla and Aquila…Mary…Andronicus”…and so on. Phil Waldrep’s point was well taken. We need to continually express our appreciation to the people with whom we work.

I have a book in my office entitled “Thank You Therapy.” Appreciation is also a therapy. Appreciation soothes a discouraged spirit. Appreciation gives renewed energy. Appreciation diminishes the disillusionment that comes from human frailties. A few days ago a pastor said to me “church would not be a bad place, were it not for people.” Appreciation can be a glue to hold together a church marred by human weaknesses.

As a minister we should express appreciation to the custodian, secretary, parking attendants, ushers, people who prepare communion, nursery workers, and an endless list of other special people. Many people who serve in our churches serve in thankless places of service.

2. We need to acknowledge people. Acknowledgment tends to focus on the person and not the things they do. Many people go un-noticed in the crowd. Paul did not let that happen. He called names.

In his book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” Dale Carnegie spends much time stressing the importance of a person’s name. Carnegie acknowledges that a person’s name is the entrance to their heart.

I remember an occasion when I impressed a young couple that visited a church I pastored. This couple had visited the church once, several months prior to this experience. For some unknown reason I remembered both of their first names as they made that second visit. When I called their names they were impressed. I wish I could be that efficient all the time. That experience taught me a valuable lesson. People need to be acknowledged.

3. We need to affirm people. In Romans 16 Paul affirms the contributions of various people. He affirms Priscilla and Aquila for “risking their own necks” (vs. 4); Mary “who labored much” (vs. 6) Adronicus and Junia “fellow prisoners” (vs. 7). He affirmed these people.

Each of these qualities has a place. To be honest, I have trouble separating them. I summarize in order to offer clarity.

We express appreciation for a person’s contributions. This is usually a one-to-one expression.

We express acknowledgement for the person’s existence.

We express affirmation for their contributions. In this we affirm publicly.

These three qualities go a long way in fortifying our relationship with people. In addition, their presence or absence may tell a story about our attitude toward people. People deserve our best!

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