An obscure gardener died in a small town. His name was Hubert Bales, and he was one of the shyest men around. When he talked, he squirmed, blinked his eyes rapidly and smiled nervously. Hubert never ran in influential circles. He grew shrubs and trees, working with his hands the plot of land left by his father. He was anything but an extrovert. Yet when Hubert died, his funeral was the largest in the history of the little town. There were so many people that they filled even the balcony of the church.
Why did such a shy man win the hearts of so many people? Simply because, for all his shyness, Hubert knew how to make friends. He had mastered the principles of caring, and for more than 60 years he had put people first. Perhaps because they recognized that his friendliness was an extra effort for someone so reserved, people loved him back—by the hundreds.
You and I can be friendly too!
The Apostle Paul exhorts us in 2 Corinthians 13:12, “Greet one another with a holy kiss.” —NIV
We are called to greet, or salute, one another, to warmly acknowledge one another’s presence and importance. When we are attentive to the coming and going of people we tell them that they are important. You know what it is like not to be acknowledged by someone who knows full well that you are in their presence. It hurts!
Do you want to know what is the most effective vitamin to help you make friends? B1.
Jesus challenges us to overcome social barriers in Matthew 5:46-48:
“If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” —NIV
City life is defined as “thousands of people being lonesome together.” Why are big cities so cold and impersonal? Because people are not attentive to each other’s presence on the streets, sidewalks and shops. Having lived in smaller centres I have developed the habit of looking into the eyes of people I meet. The larger the city, the more surprised and uncomfortable people are with eye contact when it comes to strangers.
It’s neither possible nor practical to stop and talk to everybody every time. However, when we engage in hellos, goodbyes and conversations we honour people by giving them our full attention. Jim Elliott exhorted, “Wherever you are, be all there.”
Jesus was, and is, the master of giving people His full attention. In the middle of a crowd that almost crushed Him, He knew when a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years touched the edge of His cloak and His ears perked up when Jairus was told not to bother Jesus about his sick daughter because she had just died (Luke 8:40-56). Even when we are busy, we can greet people and seize opportunities to bless them.
The Apostles Paul and Peter together command us five times in the Bible to greet one another with a holy kiss or a kiss of love. Do you suppose we are overlooking something important?
My wife, Brenda, and I have often travelled several hours to visit certain people. Even when they have known we are coming they were not around the house. It always disappointed us when we found they were not home waiting for our arrival.
We know another family who now have their grown children trained not to make a big deal of hellos and goodbyes. This affects our relationship.
I have found that the way you say hello and goodbye to people can set the relational thermostat. Are you cool or warm when you say hello and goodbye? How attentive are you to people coming and going from your presence? Your friendliness is directly proportionate to your attentiveness to others.
President, Cooperative ESL Ministries