One of the great temptations is the desire for others to think you are a very important person. In fact, such a temptation can result in much effort being spent toward self-promotion.
There are many subtle and not so subtle ways to communicate a sense of self-importance. Perhaps a person is a name-dropper. She wants everyone to know she is important because of whom she ate lunch with or met at the reception.
Another person might think he is important because of his position in a company. He seems to come alive in situations in which he is given a microphone or is in front of a camera.
Still another person might want others to know that he is in high demand. A minister might speak of the churches that are clamoring for him to come work with them. Or, he might talk about the popularity of his class at a lectureship or conference.
Yet, the great demand is not for more self-promoters.
The great demand is for more people who are willing to communicate high value to another person.
Consider for a moment how we might communicate high value to another.
• We can be emotionally engaged in another’s life. We communicate value by being genuinely interested in another’s life and thinking. For many years, I have watched my mother-in-law communicate value through her interest in the details of her grandchildren’s lives. Other people communicate value by asking very good questions.
• We can “show up” at events that are important to a family member or friend. Showing up is huge! Going to funerals, graduations, baby showers, etc. are just a few examples of occasions when showing up communicates value.
• We can do something practical to communicate that we value a certain person. One of our daughters was in the hospital a number of years ago. I remember one friend who called me several times each day to check on her. He knocked on her hospital door. I stepped out into the hall and he said, “I want to pray with you.” He put his arm around my shoulders, bowed his head, and prayed briefly in the hall. His brief visit and his prayer communicated value.
On the other hand, many people communicate mixed messages. We say we love our families and friends but then our behavior may not necessarily be consistent with what we say. Think for a moment about how we might devalue one another.
• We can ignore or minimize another’s pain. “Oh you are having surgery. No big deal! Why I know this person who had the same kind of cancer and she is just fine.” Or, sometimes people will totally focus on their own cold, toothache, etc. Some people will talk on and on about this kind of thing in a conversation while a person in a real health crisis listens in silence.
• We can ignore or minimize someone’s special moments while expecting them to be attentive to ours. Have you ever known friendships or family relationships that seemed to be one-sided? Maybe you went to all of their special functions but for some reason they never came to yours. After a while, you might draw the conclusion that you are really not all that important to these people.
• We can make little effort to stay in touch. If I don’t make the effort to stay in touch with a person, I will probably lose touch. Yes, it is frustrating to feel as if you are the one who must always take the initiative to stay in touch. However, I cannot simply be passive in my relationships and wait for someone to call me. One reality is that a high percentage of the time, I will have to take the initiative.
What do you do intentionally to communicate high worth to the people in your life whom you care about most?