The older I become the more I find myself learning to accept people for who and what they are as well as seeing them for who they can become. In every life, there is potential. I want to see people with potential.
Perhaps the greatest example to follow and learn from is Jesus Christ. He accepted people for who and what they were, but also sees people for who they can become and their value to humankind and His Kingdom.
Jesus, when He walked on earth was a very good listener. Jesus, now reigning in heaven and soon to return is still a very good listener.
The first important step to accepting others is to listen to what is and is not being said. The adage, “Seek to understand, then to be understood” is a good rule to follow. The Bible states, “Be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger…” (James 1:19). To ask clarifying questions, to understand the motivation for what is being said demonstrates wisdom. The Bible states, “He who gives an answer before he hears is folly and shame to him” (Proverbs 18:13).
Secondly, see what a person can become. Too often we dwell on what a person is or what he or she has done. We need to see people for their potential, what they can become. One way to help us see the potential in others is to remember what we were.
Somewhere along life’s journey Christians forget what Christ saved us from. Christ accepted and saw us for who we could become, this is what we need to do with others. The apostle Paul reminds us of this very thing, “… Do not be deceived, neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Christ sees each person for who they can become. Christ sees our potential.
Should you need another reminder, Paul wrote to a different group of Christians, “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I told you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21). I am a Christian, but I struggle with a couple of these, I don’t purposely practice any of these, but I do struggle with a few. Do you? Others struggle too.
Finally, encourage others. If one focuses in on the relationships Jesus had with His disciples, one sees the constant encouragement Jesus gave.
Jesus told His disciples (and us), “… but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:7-8). At another time, Jesus said, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15). Jesus encouraged those around Him. I want to encourage others.
Do you think the world needs to change for the better? Start changing your world by listening to people, really listen. Accept the person for who or what they are, but also for who the person can become in Christ. Finally, encourage those around you. Encouragement is the catalyst for success.
Change the world with the three key principles of listening, accepting, and encouraging others.