I was "taken to the woodshed" recently by a friend I've come to know in the past couple years.
I watched this guy—a very successful businessman—communicate and connect with rank strangers from every walk of life, and asked him about it later that evening. My question exactly was, "The way you communicate and talk with people, is this just your own personality, or is this a learned trait...something you've trained yourself to do?"
His reply was immediate and forthright: "I believe people are inherently nice."
He went on to explain that, he supposed it was a characteristic he had inherited from his father, who taught him (by example) that most people have a story to tell, and are just waiting to be asked about it. He brought tears to my eyes when he told me, "I've seen some ugly babies...I mean, honestly, not every baby is beautiful; but they are to their mother, and they are to God. So it's easy for me to look at a baby—no matter how ugly it might seem to be—and tell that mother, 'Ma'am, that is a beautiful child!' And to see her face light up, to see the smile that one simple statement can create, to me, there's just no feeling like it."
This man is neither a preacher, nor a politician; he's a true Christian who has chosen to see the good in everyone.
I wonder how my life would change if I chose to see people this way, as well? Has my opinion of humanity become jaded or cynical because of personal disappointments or supposed abuse? Or am I open to seeing the positive in people?
As preachers and pastors, it's easy for us to see the bad in humanity. Let's face it: few people call us for counseling or words of wisdom when their world is at its best. It's when they're dragging bottom, when their world is falling apart, or they've created some monumental problem, that they come asking for your time. Because of this, it would be easy to start seeing the world through cynical eyes, with a calloused mind that only saw the bad in people.
After watching this friend of mine, however, I have determined that, like he stated, people are inherently nice. Everyone has a story to tell, and is usually just waiting for someone to ask them about it, whether it's about their children, their job, their hobby, or anything else.
My goal is to quit talking about myself, and start discovering what other people have going on in life.
Who knows? I might actually learn something.