were a kid, did you ever play the game, sweet or sour? Maybe you don’t know
what I am talking about, and are thinking, “what game do you play that
tells you that?”
When I was a child, since I was always one of the younger kids, I had to sit in the way back of our station wagon. You know those seats that do not exist anymore, probably due to dangerous reasons. You know – the seats in the trunk of the car facing the opposite way in which you are riding. Well, my best friend and I would sit in those seats and wave to strangers. Now, if you waved back, you were sweet :), but if you did not wave back, you were sour.
Yes, it is a meaningless and straightforward game that provides absolutely no truth to whether someone is sweet or sour, but when you are eight years old, how else are you suppose to entertain yourself? Remember, this was before cell phones! 😉 Ironically though, many adults are still playing this game. If you do what I want you to do, then you are sweet, but if you do not do what I want you to do, then you are sour. Talk about expectations and setting yourself up to fail! The truth is everyone deserves to be treated as if they are sweet!
John 15:12, This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have
loved you. As followers of Christ, we are to do two things: (1)
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength,
and all your mind and (2) love your neighbor as you love yourself (Luke
10:27). If you are struggling to love your neighbors or even yourself
as you wish, I encourage you to check out The Victor Transformation Program
I remember as a child, I would feel so great about myself when a stranger engaged with my friend and me by giving us an energetic smile or wave. On the flip side, I was always so bummed and confused as to why they would not wave at us. I mean, we were 8-years old – all we wanted was a smile not to be annoyed or flicked off.
Let me ask you, are you typically more sweet or sour to people? When interacting with a stranger, how do you treat them? How do you make them feel? Yes, we always have our off days – we are humans. We are far from perfect, but we are to live and be as Christ was. He typically treated people with kindness, love, and compassion. He got angry at the truth of the matter, not the person.
Let’s put being nice to others in perspective for a second:
1). Your assumptions are getting in the way of how you treat them. Assumptions are assumptions, nothing more!
When we interact with someone we do not know or may believe subconsciously is beneath us due to his or her job, looks, communication, behaviors, or whatever, we are making some significant assumptions about the individual as well as acting with tremendous pride. First, the fact is you do not know that person. If you do not know them, what is driving you to make assumptions or judgments about him or her.
However, you are connected to the person for a short period of time. You will either leave no impression on the individual, a good impression, or a negative impression. Regardless an impact is going to occur on both you and the other. I can speak from experience it is so much more rewarding to make someone feel amazing and loved then like crap!
impression are you going to leave? Are you going to make their day better or
worse by acting mindlessly with pride and entitlement?
The next time you interact with someone you don’t know, pay attention to the assumptions your mind comes up with and see if you are implementing those assumptions in your interaction. Also, let me ask you – have you ever had someone assume something about you, which caused them to treat you poorly? Maybe you know of a loved one who’s been mistreated if you have not. If so, what wisdom can you bring in from that experience to consciously being kind to others?
To remind you how foolish it is for a person to participate and take out their assumptions on another, recall Proverbs 18:2, “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” I get we are all busy at times, but NO ONE is so busy they must be rude or inconsiderate. I know the weight of time pressure can be overwhelming. Sometimes we create an urgency over nothing, which causes us to be short with people, but remember that person is a person and is also loved by God. Treat him or her with love, kindness, and compassion!
Remember, when you are assuming information about a person, you are also participating in judgment. As Matthew 7:1 reminds us, “Judge not, that you be not judged.”
2. You have no idea who that person is!
As a professional coach, I am always fascinated by how many people participate in the cognitive distortion (a mental trap) of mind reading and personalizing. Go to the grocery store or a restaurant and observe people either trying to read the mind of someone they don’t know (or do know) or personalizing how someone is acting as if they are against you when they are not. The reality is if you are having a transactional relationship with a person, you most likely do not know them, and it can be easy to assume, personalize, or mind read what they are doing instead of politely asking.
Sometimes, I am guilty of this too, when people are not moving as fast as I need them to due to the invisible time pressure and urgency I am choosing to buy into, I can find myself irritable. Of course, once I am aware I am behaving in such a poor way, I consciously change my tune. I remind myself God is outside of Newton time, God loves this person and me, and God would instead me bless this person than be cruel or less than a blessing.
In those moments where you are acting less than your best, what can you do to bless them? Remember, you do not know who they are, where they came from, what just happened a few minutes ago in their world, or if tragedy is occurring. It’s best not to personalize, mind read or assume, but to bless the person and ask questions if necessary.
3. You have no clue what that person may be able to do for you!
My dad always said, “you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” It’s true. If you do not know who the person is, then you also have no idea who they are connected too. You have no idea what their interests are or if your paths will ever cross again.
What if you are behaving less than your best to your boss’ daughter? Or what if you were kind to a stranger who was your boss’ daughter, which got you noticed in the office? God wants us to be a blessing to others, and when we bless others, sometimes, we, too, are blessed by the same person. I do not want to go too far down the “what-if” train because that is also a cognitive distortion, but we need to be mindful that a stranger might be the very person we need.
4. The presence of an angel!
“Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!” (Hebrews 13:2). You have no idea when you are entertaining or in the company of an angel. Sometimes God or the Holy Spirit will clue you into whether or not that was an angel.
In my lifetime, I have had the pleasure of having an angel in my company twice. Once when I was 16 and once when I was 25 or 26. When I was in my mid-20s and came in contact with an angel, the other women surrounding me were practicing avoidance towards her. She was loud, very positive, and a bit eclectic, but she spoke godly wisdom into my life and shared an encouraging vision with me. The vision she shared with me was something deep in my heart and confirmed some truths for me.
My point is you have no idea who a person is until you get to know them, which is why it is always best to be sweet to others! To get to know a person, you must be kind, compassionate, loving, friendly, and open-minded. You cannot assume or be mean and expect to get to know someone.
In closing, let me ask you a few questions:
- What needs to happen in your mind to make treating people with absolute kindness and love to be your must?
- Where are you typically not as nice or know you can do better?
- What rude or inconsiderate things do you when shopping or out and about?
Go and do it today with FAITH, and CREATE a great day.