Important Introductions

“Joseph introduced his family to Pharaoh”
Acts 7:13b ISV
Introductions are a super important time when we initiate new relationships. I like what twentieth-century American writer of history, science fiction, and fantasy, Fletcher Pratt, once said about introductions: “The more people that meet each other, the better it is for all of them. ("The Gift of God").” This quote comes from his book, Tales from Gavagan’s Bar.

Strangers becoming friends is a magical journey of discovery and delight. This is a journey that all of humanity can benefit from (implies Pratt). When Joseph introduced his family to Pharoh, a whole new chapter in their lives began, both for Egypt and for Israel. Here are four very important “C”s to pay attention to when engaging in new introductions:

CURIOSITY – When we live with a spirit of curiosity, our “peeked interest” is stronger than any fear or insecurity. Curiosity empowers us for social engagement. I love what Canadian author, entrepreneur, and blogger, Danielle LaPorte, once said: “If knowledge is power, then curiosity is the muscle.” Strong muscles make for decisive actions. Showing interest is an electric opening to safe and engaging conversations. Curiosity is the “Tell-me-more” spirit of fascination that energizes the new people we are meeting for the first time to share more openly, more freely, more confidently, and more excitedly, as though they are making a new life-giving connection. This is how the church should behave every Sunday.

COURAGE – Whenever we meet new people, there is always that pang (sudden awareness) of uncertainty about a new encounter. Will it go well? What should I say? What will they think? Are we kindred souls? What do I do if they say something I disagree with? What have I heard about this person? What preconceived notions do I have (if any)? Courage is the deep inner resolve to acknowledge our fears and uncertainties (our vulnerabilities) but to move forward (despite them) into open and vulnerable conversations. We “step in faith” and “take a risk” in attempting to find common ground and interests and safety in our first encounters. Courage always chooses to show up and engage.

COMPASSION – Of all the traits that are humanizing and tenderizing of our lives towards others, it is the gift of compassion. Beginning every relationship with a sympathetic concern, and mindfulness of others, places our relational encounters in a sacred framework. When I see and treat all people with “TLC,” we create a safe space where they can feel loved, cared for, un-judged, and accepted for who they are right now, in this stage and station of their life and story. We are all people in progress, and we all need room to bloom and grow. We need fertilizer, water, sunlight, and yes, even weeding! Compassion is the big heart that makes room and time for all of that.

COURTESY – The way we engage people in public and in private says a lot about how we view people and how we value their reputation, and esteem their worth, and image. Courtesy is seen as “a gentle politeness and courtly manners.” Courtesy is all about our approach to people and how we engage people in encounters with ourselves. Our body language, our intonation, our eye contact, facial expressions, gesticulations, proximity, and speed of speech all influence what others sense from us in our attitudes and actions. The same is true for what is spoken and written behind closed doors or out in parking lots, away from a critiqued person’s ears.

I would like to suggest that our introductions this summer (and for the rest of our lives) are profoundly important, and telling moments of where we might be heading in the future. People tend to know the difference between a “cold shoulder” and a “warm embrace;” between a “polite nod” and an “inquisitive question.” People’s radar tends to signal our brains quickly if we should be “on high alert” or if we have entered into “friendly and safe territory.”

I’d like to shamelessly ask you to practice the four C’s this summer, when Pastor Linda arrives, and when every other new person comes through our doors in the years ahead. It is one of the most simple and profound things we can do to become a vital and attractive church family within our larger Oak Harbor community.
People are attracted to the people who are attracted to people!
Pastor David 😊

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