God plants clues about others directly in our path. But understanding others requires intentionality. If you’re serious about solving the mystery of differences, you can collect those clues about others and study them. That’s what happened between Megan and Tim.
Differences between Megan and Tim
The staff meeting had not officially begun, but chatter filled the room as Megan entered, placed her file on the table, and sat down.
Maybe we can start right away and finish quickly, thought Megan. She had a lot to get done today, but the rest of the team seemed content to chat. Inwardly Megan sighed. Her colleagues had a fantastic ministry, but Megan wondered how they did it. It seemed as if Matt, Brenda, and Tim were constantly cutting up with one another. Staff meetings, like this one, were regularly interrupted when Tim needed to take an important phone call or answer an urgent email from a congregation member. Part of Megan was irritated. Didn’t he see how much more he could get done if he worked in an orderly, systematic way? But part of Megan was envious. She wanted to have a more relaxed approach to ministry like Tim, who seemed to be able to talk to anyone about anything at any time.
“Megan,” said Tim, leaning across the table and interrupting her thoughts, “I just want you to know how much I appreciate your concentration.” Megan looked up, startled. “We were just talking about how focused you are. You help the rest of us stay on task. It’s something that’s taken me awhile to get used to because I’m so relational. But now, there are days when I wish I were more like you.”
Understanding others around you – and valuing them
Both Megan and Tim had recognized clues about each other – clues that God had placed in their path. But before letting their differences cause friction on their team, Megan and Tim went further. They realized it was not enough to understand that God wired each of them individually. Rather than raging against the other person, they had sought to understand the other better.
Megan identified Tim’s ability to manage many trains of thought at one time. As she pondered Tim’s style, she saw the value to handling distractions simultaneously as an important skill in ministry. On the other hand, Tim admitted that Megan’s sequential approach felt foreign to him. He’d rarely been in ministry with someone who sought to maintain a laser-sharp focus. As Tim worked with Megan, however, he understood that her approach allowed the team to stay on task and accomplish more together.
Those around you are not supposed to be just like you. God deliberately wired them in a different way and then strategically placed them in your path. Will you seek to understand and embrace them?
Understanding others requires intentionality.
God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. (1 Corinthians 12:18)
- Why can it be tempting to want others to be just like us?
- List clues God has given you about a team member. What do those clues reveal to you about that person’s strengths?
- In what ways do you and the team member complement one another?