How do you care more for people?
Yes I am serious, this my question. I have a growing concern that I am slipping more and more into my own world; full of all its micro dramas, too self absorbed to really care for others. And I don’t think I am the only one.
Our very own Phil Crawford kicked us off with his own stories of working with at risk youth. During his session he gave these steps to people who are wanting to care more for people:
1. Acknowledge your selfish bias
2. Don’t divide your faith into the public or private
3. Seek wholeness for yourselves and others (shalom)
4. Start at homePhil got me with number one. I have sensed my biggest hindrance to caring for others is my ego or as Phil calls it our self serving bias. I have convinced myself that I am just not wired to care for other people. My ego seems to always be on the look out to validate this claim.
For example, on our recent trip to the US we drove to a chain cafe for a session with a certified StrengthsFinder coach. I am a big fan of Strenghts but the session was strange; a blend of insight, ignorance, and artificial energy. I don’t know how but I am guessing high fructose corn syrup had something to do with it.
During the session the coach said to me, “I see you have Relator in your top ten. Something you need to know about Relators is that they care deeply for those in their inner circle but are less caring for strangers.” She went further, “if someone were to trip and hurt themselves walking up to the door I would be the least likely to react of those at the table.” I didn’t really need the imagery but it drove the point further into my chest.
The words were a confirmation of something I already knew to be true of myself. I felt myself sink into the idea and get comfortable. Then I felt a big disgusted with myself. We can point to our personality or talents or wherever and find justification for not caring for others, instead of putting them to work finding unique ways to care. Behind the justification I willing to guess is ego, that self serving bias.
So what do we do?
The knowledge of the my self-serving bend has often paralyzed me. I tell myself, “I am just caring for them cause I want to be known as someone who cares.” The cynic in me looks at aid workers as people who need to help and don’t much care for those they are “helping.” Then I realize that I will even use the knowledge of my self serving bias to ‘serve’ myself.
How can a self centered person like me really seek wholeness, shalom, for others?
I once heard an artist talk about why she was teaching painting classes in prisons, she said she taught them because their salvation is intertwined. She saw her wholeness connected to their wholeness. Not independent of each other. This re-framed the whole conversation for me, I am working to no longer see myself independently. But walk down that strange path where we serve ourselves best by serving others.
My wholeness, my shalom, is connected to yours.
How have you learned to push past your self-serving bias?